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Cava Menzies/Nick Phillips: Moment to Moment

Dan Bilawsky By

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Hushed lyricism, noir-ish episodes and smoky scenarios are brought to mind with Moment To Moment. This gentle quartet outing is a product of the budding musical relationship between trumpeter Nick Phillips, a music business veteran who still finds time for his horn, and Cava Menzies, a music educator who lives a double life as a performing pianist.

While both artists are essentially moonlighting as musicians, the music they make never hints at that fact. Together, they turn in spellbinding, turn-the-lights-down-low ballad performances that call to mind Miles Davis-esque moodiness and Chet Baker-ish romanticism and longing. They don't try to refinish classics or create crazy-and-novel arrangements. They just focus on taking a tune, zoning in on its essence, and putting that out there at the center of the performance.

The program speaks to this duo's respect and reverence for the past and present, as they work their way through standards ("For All We Know"), originals ("Mal's Moon" and "You"), and a surprise or two (pianist Kenny Barron's "Phantoms). The Baker legacy is further referenced through a performance of Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue," a late-in-the-trumpeter's-life staple, but the connection is also obvious in plenty of other places.

Bassist Jeff Chambers and drummer Jaz Sawyer prove to be an ever-helpful and unobtrusive rhythm team, quietly providing the at-the-surface support that the music requires, but it's the co-leaders that draw in the ear from start to finish. Moment To Moment has no fireworks to offer or grand gestures to speak of, but it doesn't claim to have any such things. This is sit down, pour a drink, kick-your-heels-up-and-relax music that wins out with a less-is-more strategy.

Track Listing: The Peacocks; Mal's Moon; For All We Know; You; You Don't Know What Love Is; Almost Blue; Phantoms; Speak Low.

Personnel: Nick Phillips: trumpet; Cava Menzies: piano; Jeff Chambers: bass; Jazz Sawyer: drums.

Title: Moment to Moment | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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