“In Good Company” features veteran crooner Lee Lessack, dueting with everyone from Tony® Award nominee Maureen McGovern to Michael Feinstein and Grammy® award winner Stephen Schwartz, whose latest songwriting triumph is “Wicked,” the runaway Broadway hit. All together, 17 of the world’s top Broadway and cabaret attractions are featured on “In Good Company”.
— Jeff Rossen, Cabaret Scenes 2005
“In 1993, Frank Sinatra, who hadn’t had a hit album in many, many years, decided on a project that would guarantee both press and record-buying interest by recording an album of duets with a roster of A-List stars. It worked, and he released a second set the following year that met with equal success. It’s sad that one of music’s greatest voices and artists would have to resort to such an obvious marketing ploy and ended up as a sad finale to an otherwise landmark career. But flip the premise over and take one of the current generation of both cabaret’s finest and an artist whose joy in making marvelous music is one of the greatest pleasures for the listening public, and you have a combination of voice, music and artistry that is not so much a pleasure to behold as it is a gift to songwriters and music lovers of any generation. Such is the magic of Lee Lessack’s extraordinary In Good Company.
As one who has sat mesmerized by the power of Lessack’s voice since the first time I heard it on his debut album, when you respect the person as much as you do the artist, it is sort of personal pleasure when you find them achieving the kind of excellence Lessack and his songmates do on this no less than perfect album. OK, maybe it’s a little heavy on the ballad front, but when you move from one moving dramatic moment to another to another to another, well, your wish for a few more up-tempo interludes is quelled. But wouldn’t it have been great to hear him and Ann Hampton Callaway cut loose with a jazzy jive? Yes, but there’s also a great pleasure in hearing Callaway return to an earlier recording and approaching it now, as she does with Lessack on the hypnotic Bring Back Romance. And to hear Amanda McBroom for the first time share vocals on her timeless The Rose, well, the effect is simply breathtaking.
On this generous 75-minute collection, Lessack teams with 17 artists who represent a widely varied cross-section of cabaret and theatre, but what each has in common is how effortlessly their voice blends with Lessack’s and how perfectly Lessack has chosen material for their musical partnership. Ranging from the summer night?’s warmth of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face with Nita Whitaker to Stephen Schwartz and Lessack taking on one of Schwartz’s best Wicked tunes, For Good, to the drop-dead beauty of Never Saw Blue Like That and Mary Jo Mundy’s affecting honesty to the alternately powerful-moving teaming with Ken Page on Vincent, Lessack and company hit the mark every time here. But then again, how could they not when they’re performing backed by the no less than extraordinary arrangements and performances by Johnny Rodgers and his band (Brian Glassman, bass; Danny Mallon, drums; Joe Ravo, guitar). Add in Lessack and Rodgers’ take on Rodgers’ Simon and Garfunkel tribute, Here’s to You, which sounds both like one of the legendary duo’s own tunes and makes a good case for Lessack and Rodgers teaming as the newest incarnation, and you’ve got an album that is an absolute knockout.”
— Andrew Gans, Playbill Magazine – September 2005
“Cabaret singer Lee Lessack performs with a host of theatre and cabaret favorites on his latest release for the LML Music label. Lessack’s voice – a rich, lyric baritone that conveys a wealth of emotion throughout its range – blends remarkably well with this diverse array of talent. Most of the tracks are performed gently, eschewing “American Idol” – style vocal gymnastics, and the result is a lovely, easy listen.”
— David Horiuchi, Amazon.com
“With In Good Company, tenor Lee Lessack gets a little help from his friends. All 17 tracks are duets, with well-known voices such as Maureen McGovern (“If You Go Away”) and Michael Feinstein (“May I Suggest”). He also invites some singer-composers to duet on their own songs, such as Ann Hampton Callaway (on her own “Bring Back Romance”), Amanda McBroom (“The Rose”), Susan Werner (“Blue Guitar”), Stephen Schwartz (Wicked’s “For Good”), and Johnny Rodgers (“Here’s to You”), who also coproduced with Lessack and directs the band from the piano. And of course frequent collaborator Joanne O’Brien makes a welcome appearance on “Summer Wine.” The overall mood is quite mellow, but also incorporates songs that wouldn’t normally be associated with cabaret, such as Journey’s “Open Arms” (with Brian Lane Green) and Shawn Colvin’s “Never Saw Blue Like That” (with Mary Jo Mundy).”
— The Advocate, 1/17/2006
“The cabaret artist gathered his all-star pals together for this smooth, accomplished set of duets, both luscious and lounge-y.”
— Gregg Shapiro, Chicago Free Press
“The suitably named “In Good Company” (LML Music) finds renowned cabaret vocalist Lee Lessack partnering with a series of guests. Regardless of what you think of Journey, hearing two gay men, Lessack and Brian Lane Green, sing “Open Arms” gives the song a new lease on life. In some of the most inspired moves on this disc, Lessack duets with songwriters on their own compositions, including Susan Werner (“Blue Guitar”), Ann Hampton Callaway (“Bring Back Romance”), Amanda McBroom (“The Rose”), Johnny Rogers (the Simon & Garfunkel tribute “Here’s To You”), and Stephen Schwartz (“For Good” from “Wicked”)”
— Rob Lester, Talkin’ Broadway, July 14, 2005
“Phone rings, door chimes, in comes company,” Stephen Sondheim wrote about being with others. This week, we look at some musical company you might want to invite in this summer. They say we’re known by the company we keep, and these CDs are keepers. Romance, comedy and new-to-our-ears theater songs are always welcome company around here. We start with a CD by a singer who has a different duet partner on each track, so he has plenty of company. In fact, he has his own record company, too. LEE LESSACK “IN GOOD COMPANY” LML Music Lee Lessack began LML Records ten years ago this month to distribute his own recordings, but he soon had a roster of singers on the label. He has invited a few of them and a whole lot of other colleagues to duet with him on In Good Company. There are 17 duets in all, and he is indeed in good company. Although most of the songs celebrate love in its happier, heartbreak-free chapters, the album is not completely filled with joyous celebratory singing. The feeling on most of the tracks is rather gentle, with the singers sounding extraordinarily thoughtful, hushed and awestruck by the experience of love. There’s a wide-eyed, pensive examination of the emotions at hand in many of the moods. You won’t be snapping your fingers or laughing, but it’s a smooth glide of a ride. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the project is how well and successfully Lee harmonizes with such a wide variety of vocalists. The harmonies are often exquisite and graceful, and he seems more than willing to share the spotlight at each turn. There is tremendous respect for the songs; in fact, at times I wish they’d have been less “careful” and just cut loose a little. Some of this feels very studied and not very spontaneous. Although most of the singing is lovely, there’s a sense of walking on eggshells rather than jumping in – but I’d much rather have careful singing than careless singing. I’ve always been a fan of Lee’s solo albums. His live Johnny Mercer album is buoyant and loose, and overflowing with songs, though he seems to favor a more delicate approach. Some of his high-voiced, emotionally naked interpretations on his first two albums are arresting, and he’s not shy when it comes to being a romantic. Singer-songwriter-musician Johnny Rodgers, whose own debut album is about to be released, deserves a lot of the credit here. He and his band do a terrific job accompanying the singers, as do the five additional musicians (Tom Harrell on brass and four string players). Johnny is also co-producer, along with Lee. Johnny’s duet with Lee is a song he co-wrote as a tribute to Simon and Garfunkel (“Here’s to You”), and it’s a remarkable achievement. The song captures the essence of the team’s appeal with specific lyric references to their songs and melodic bits and arrangement touches that echo their trademark sound without being pure pastiche or a musical Xerox. This would be enough to make it my personal favorite, but add to that the fact that Johnny and Lee also channel the icons’ vocal sound without attempting to do an impersonation.I’m also especially fond of the duet with David Burnham (the Everly Brothers hit, “Devoted To You”). David is currently the understudy to the male lead in A Light In The Piazza and his gloriously gorgeous voice soars. The album spends considerable time revisiting pop material that is well-trod and very much in the air (meaning radio airwaves or what were then smoke-filled cabaret rooms) in the late ’60s through the ’80s. For example, “Open Arms” with Brian Lane Green (in one of the more energetic numbers, making the most out of this old pop tidbit) and Amanda McBroom on her own claim-to-fame “The Rose.” But there are some less familiar and newer offerings as well, including two first recordings of songs (in addition to “Here’s To You”). Each listener will have different favorites, but I can’t find a dud in the lot. Michael Feinstein stops by for a Susan Werner song, “May I Suggest,” and that songwriter duets on her own “Blue Guitar.” If played when you’re in the mood for something to wash over you rather than to get your blood pounding, it’s a sweet summer afternoon’s hammock listening. If you don’t have a hammock, use your imagination. Broadway doesn’t get much attention here, but lovers of Wicked will be happy to hear “For Good” as one of the choices, and especially interested to hear who the duet partner is: the writer of the song, Stephen Schwartz. Also on board are some familiar musical theater names: Susan Egan, Maureen McGovern and a welcome surprise, Ken Page, who does a laudable job with Lee on Don McLean’s “Vincent.” Romance is good company, especially when virtually devoid of tragedy and tears as it is this time. Lee Lessack with good friends and good blends adds up to good company for him and us as well.”
— David Byrne – Windy City Times 10/5/05
“Cabaret singer Lee Lessack is joined by his friends on his latest effort, In Good Company. The native from the city of brotherly love sings love songs effortlessly with male and female counterparts. “In Good Company” is highlighted by interpretations of such favorites as “If You Go Away,” “The Look of Love” and a surprisingly effective take on Journey’s “Open Arms.” Pulling double duty, the handsome tenor heads the label LML Music, feeling that this genre is often overlooked and there is much talent out.”
— In Tune International, October 2005
“The impressive vocal talents of Lee Lessack not only spreads a geographic web over the cabaret circuit of Los Angeles, New York and London, but his wheeler dealing business acumen makes him head honcho of LML Music which provides a welcome outlet for many gifted voices. When it came to IN GOOD COMPANY (LML-186) he was able to draw on the assistance of his reservoir of artists and friends to produce a soft and sentimental program of duets. Unlike many projects that encourage performers to compete and overload in overwrought competition, this romantic collection remains appropriately low-key and satisfying with further invitation for successive plays. Lee provides the vocal anchor for every track and quietly adapts to the vocal style of each guest for intertwining songs, which create a mood of compassion, empathy and truth. Amongst familiar names are Maureen McGovern (IF YOU GO AWAY), Ann Hampton Callaway (her own song BRING BACK ROMANCE), Amanda McBroom (her self-written THE ROSE), and Michael Feinstein (MAY I SUGGEST?), whilst composer Stephen Schwartz turns vocalist and selects FOR GOOD from his current hit show WICKED. However, even lesser-known names deliver performances which match the best, and I particularly appreciated the country flavored BLUE GUITAR by Susan Werner, LET IT BE ME from David Burnham and OPEN ARMS by Brian Lane Green, with a closing word of praise for the sparingly apposite arrangements by the Johnny Rodgers Band.”
With his graceful lyric baritone vocals and a sophisticated yet endearing persona, Lee Lessack has toured extensively in the United States and Europe to sold-out performances and has released five recordings. His most ambitious recording to date, “In Good Company,”…