Two people. That’s all you need to create a stunning album complete with all of jazz’s beloved nuances, all the explosive vitality of a live performance and all those stirring moments that remind you why you need it in your life. One Night In Vermont,
pianist Ted Rosenthal and trombonist Bob Brookmeyer’s new live album, contains all of these, but it also captures a historic evening—the first time the pair played together as a duo. August 28th, 2001 at Wilmington, Vermont’s Memorial Hall Center for the Arts must have been a very special evening for all in attendance, for each of the seven standards on this disc buzz with brilliant beauty.
Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin... they’re all here. Rosenthal and Brookmeyer, distinguished composers and arrangers themselves, take classic melodies from these revered songwriters, and enliven them with glistening contrapuntal streams, gracious improvisations, and playful duels. They bring a strong orchestral wisdom to the duo setting, expanding their capacity for expression and utilizing the absence of a rhythm section to their advantage.
The pairing of trombone and piano provides for a tasteful contrast. In “Night And Day,” the two complement each other with opposing textures. Brookmeyer’s trombone takes on a rough tone as Rosenthal’s piano shimmers. During “Embraceable You,” Rosenthal comps tactfully over Brookmeyer’s solo, emphasizing each phrase with sharp, conspiratorial chords. Rosenthal’s own solo is ferociously rousing—the kind that provokes a heightened pulse, and quickened breath. During his “Yesterdays” solo, it’s pure pleasure when Rosenthal loosens his grip and tumbles into the warbling melody that is so essentially of the Fred and Ginger era.
Rosenthal and Brookmeyer play emphatically together. As one slows down, enraptured in the moment, the other takes the lead, propelling the team forward, but of course not stealing the spotlight. Both toy with rhythms like expert clowns juggling a collection of objects of varying shape and weight.
Inciting nostalgia as with “Darn That Dream,” or compassion with “All The Things You Are,” this music simultaneously relaxes and invigorates. Listen and soak in the tub. Listen and button your cuff links for a swinging night out. Either way, listen.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York