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Cava Menzies/Nick Phillips: Moment to Moment

Dan McClenaghan By

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This feels like a chance ramble off of dimly lit streets into a wee hours night club; and the quartet—trumpet, piano, bass and drums—has slipped into a blue mood. A few notes from the muted horn, a half a dozen supple touches of the piano keys sets the introspective and melancholy tone for the evening. The bassist pulls deep, deliberate sounds from the strings; the drummer brushes up a hushed whisper, and in a corner booth a teardrop falls into a strong drink.

Pianist Cava Menzies and trumpeter Nick Phillips have crafted a gorgeously retro-classic sound on Moment to Moment. It's all ballads, heavy on the tear jerkers: "You Don't Know What Love Is," Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue," Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks." On a blind fold test, a good guess might be: "Chet Baker, maybe, or someone who listened to a lot of Chet. The pianist? I don't know. It's an original approach—concise, not a lot of notes, but every one seems to mean something profound; and I love what the bassist and drummer are doing, with that old school understatement and subtle grace."

Menzies and Phillips are both players with "day jobs," pretty much the norm for jazz artists these days, the Methenys and the Mehldaus aside. Menzies, daughter of trumpet great Eddie Henderson, teaches music. Phillips is a long time staff producer and Vice President for the Concord Music Group. He co-produced Moment to Moment with Menzies, and they did a stellar job of it. It has what the best albums have—a sustained mood, beautiful sound quality, well chosen material, and great musicians who have clicked as a group and slipped into a cohesive ensemble groove.

Jazz Standards and the Great American Songbook classics are joined here by a lovely Menzies's tune, "Mal's Moon," along with one from Phillips, an uplifting ode, "You," featuring the trumpeter's soft, rich, open horn tone. And let's pick (no easy task on this CD) a standout: the group's take on pianist Kenny Barron's "Phantoms" drifts in a timeless dimension of sound, spooky and surreal, like something out of one of your stranger dreams.

A fabulous CD, the kind that find their way onto the "Best of Year" lists.

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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