The pair succeeds through a combination of close listening and careful planning. Ample rehearsals and a hand-picked songbook of standards both familiar and obscure translate into a relaxed atmosphere in front of the microphones Add to this the relative brevity of the chosen piece and most of the chaff is removed, leaving concise sketches that float in space like gilded tone poems. Stuart’s lilting chords support Graham’s pillow-soft verses on tracks like “Thanks for the Memories” and “Secret Love.” Other tunes like “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” suggest the duo’s more playful side as Stuart’s bouncing strums bookend Graham’s sassy oration of the classic swing anthem. Tempering these successes are moments where the singer dips perhaps too heavily into a romantic side of things and errs on the side of cloying sentimentality. But even these foibles are the province of preference and her consistency over the session’s lengthy duration is difficult to slight.
Vocal projects remain a rarity at CIMP- a label too often pigeonholed for its practices and preferences as documentation vehicle for free jazz. The reality is that producer Bob Rusch’s interests range far and wide. This date is proof positive of both his eclectic tastes and knack for finding talent worthy of recognition in all regions of improvised music. If this disc finds it’s way into the right hands Graham’s gig in academia may become moot.
CIMP discs are available directly through North Country Distributors: http://www.cadencebuilding.com
Track Listing: Ooh, Baby Baby/ O Barquinho/ I Love You for Sentimental Reasons/ What a Little Moonlight Can Do/ Thanks for the Memories/ Stompin
Personnel: T.J. Graham- vocals; Rory Stuart- guitar. Recorded: July 23 &24, 2001, Rossie, NY.
Record Label: CIMP Records
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