Although billed as a trio effort, this album is a showcase for singer Mary Ann Hurst. Her previous track record includes the rather dauntingly-titled Chinese Folksongs In A Jazz Mode
from 2000. There's nothing quite as exotic here, simply a well-wrought session that begins with more than a touch of the cool female vocalists of the 1950s. Even the opening track, "Pete Kelly's Blues," is pure jazz nostalgia, taken from the soundtrack of the Jack Webb film.
Hurst's trio is not your usual piano/bass/drums unit but a combination of voice with acoustic guitar and percussion, giving this album a decidedly intimate patina. Mary Ann Hurst deivers many of the tunes in ballad tempo, raising the tempo on others to provide contrast to such titles as "Skylark," "When You Wish Upon A Star," and "You Must Believe in Spring." "Soon It's Gonna Rain," "A Taste of Honey," with a Latin pulse from Gilad, and a mid-tempo "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top" all work to provide a well-mixed set. A few of these songs, like Paul Simon's "Feelin' Groovy" and Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine," seem to be in need of temporary retirement.
Let us respect the value of percussionist Gilad and especially guitarist/arranger Freddie Bryant on this album. Bryant is a wonder, either strumming on the up-tempo songs or providing sensitive playing and solo work on the majority. The tongue-in-groove fit of his playing and Hurst's smoky vocals place this album on a special shelf.
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Personnel: Mary Ann Hurst: vocals; Freddie Bryant: guitar; Gilad: percussion.