As fertile and durable as the Great American Songbook is, like fossil fuels it is not an infinite and forgiving loam. It is a splendid jumping-off point, both historically and contemporarily, for the swan dive into jazz. At least tangentially, it also serves as the creative spark, igniting new, more progressive composition. This is where Sacramento-based singer Beth Duncan and, by extension, composer & lyricist Martine Tabilio deftly enter the picture.
Duncan's previous two recordings Orange Colored Sky (Self Produced, 2005) and Comes the Fall (Self Produced, 2012) plumbed the Songbook with a few unexpected surprises. With I'm All Yours Duncan ups the creative ante considerably by teaming with Oakland-based Martine Tabilio in a recital of ten brand-spanking-new original tunes, all simmered in the warm and humid climes of the Caribbean and points south and west, while exuding a personal and introspective flavor all their own.
Duncan and Tabilio are two equal participants in the triumvirate that is completed by the band, a muscular piano-guitar quartet led by pianist Joe Gilman, whose acoustic and electric piano color bright or in shadow, as the mood requires. Reeds specialist Jacam Manricks provides a robust seasoning to Duncan's sturdy and confident alto voice, the two providing a unique sympathy for the duration of the collection. Bassist Matt Robinson rises to the center in all songs, whether introducing things ("I'm All Yours") or propelling them on ("It All Begins With You").
If the collection has a theme, it is one of love and how it is experienced, from the blissful abandon of the title song to the sardonic resignation of "Serves Me Right." Duncan and Tabilio shake things up with the jaunty "The Band," featuring Manricks (who is also the arranger) and Gilman. "Your Song's Passé" is a finger-in-the-eye of the standard repertoire, particularly if rendered in less than stellar fashion. "Kit & Kaboodle Blues" is a fun romp and kiss-off to close this satisfying and well-conceived project. Duncan possesses an impressive staying power as she passes from one genre to the next. Her presence is potent, her voice certain, and her focus pure and direct, especially when paired with Tabilio's work.
I'm All Yours, It All Begins with You, Breakup Funk, While You Decide, Serves Me
Right, The Band, Suddenly, Marika's Melody, Your Song's Passe, Kit & Kaboodle Blues
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