Canadian songbird Irene Atman follows her highly acclaimed self-titled, indepedent debut of 2007 with another remarkable effort, this time recording ten gentle standards in an auspicious New York Rendezvous
with pianist Frank Kimbrough
and other New York players, providing a new meaning to the phrase "New York state of mind." Meeting Kimbrough twenty years ago on, as she states, "a forgettable cruise," Atman reached out to Kimbrough with the thought of recording her second album in New York, to which Kimbrough offered unqualified support and even serves here as co-producer.
Atman is clearly one of the finest singers around, gifted with a voice that allow her to reach high notes with ease, revealing a cool and enticing style that tenderizes the lyrics with a touch of class. She brings the music alive with the assistance of a very fine quartet, led, of course, by Kimbrough, it features bassist Jay Anderson
, drummer Matt Wilson
and the versatile Joel Frahm
on tenor and soprano saxophones. While the selection of music does contain several familiar standards like Burt Bacharach's "Alfie," Jules Styne's "Time After Time," and Johnny Mandel's "A Time For Love," the majority is lesser-known and less frequently recorded music.
There are no real swinging numbers on the album, as Atman instead prefers to focus on the softer side of jazz floating a repertoire of light gentle standards. Henry Mancini's "Two For The Road," from 1967, opens the disc and establishes a warm tone that carries over throughout the recording. Both Kimbrough and Frahm entertain very tasteful solos here with nothing flashy or fancy, just smooth and relaxing. Frahm does provide engaging tenor phrasing between Atman's voicing of the lyrics to "Why Did I Choose You," but it's the singer who is quite pronounced on this beautiful ballad. Frahm also distinguishes himself on the classic "Charade," this time playing soprano.
Armando Manzanero's "Somos Novios" is in good hands as Atman voices the lyrics in Spanish in a soft and passionate rendition of this standard, with Kimbrough providing the meat of the music in an emotional performance. With Wilson's crashing cymbal accents providing the steady beat on "Time After Time," this is the closest the singer comes to dishing out a swinging number. After listening to the finale songs, "Alfie" and "The Glory of Love," there's little doubt that New York Rendezvousis a jewel of an album. The music sparkles all over and Irene Atman's Barbra Streisand
-like vocals carry the day on this very memorable recording.
Personnel: Irene Atman: vocals; Frank Kimbrough: piano; Jay Anderson: drums; Joel Frahm: tenor and soprano saxophones.