With the rapid evolution of jazz in the past generation, a simple performance approach offers the benefit of showing from where we have come. Denmark-cum-New York City native vocalist Tine Bruhn joins pianist Johnny O'Neal (late of drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and vibraphonist Milt Jackson's band) and saxophonist Stacy Dillard for a collection of ten tried-and-true standards, simply and elegantly presented within the intimate confines of the duo-trio format. Part of understanding how jazz got where it is today is an understanding the original intent of the composers of the canon of jazz standards, before they were transmogrified, first by the likes of saxophonists Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, and trumpeter Miles Davis, and more recently beyond, as exemplified by the brilliant output of labels like ECM and Winter & Winter. Bruhn's approach is from that point of simplicity, where she presents the music as written, demonstrating the rich ground from which modern jazz emerged.
Bruhn's assembly, all ballads, have been the vehicles of many instrumental interpretations, particularly saxophonists. Alto saxophonist Art Pepper was fond of playing the Burke/Van Heusen diamond "But Beautiful," while Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons favored "My Foolish Heart," and Charlie Parker enjoyed reworking "Easy To Love." Bruhn's performance of the same material reveals why these were popular instrumentals. Her voice possesses the paradox of vulnerability, burnt with a certain durable texture. O'Neal's piano support is both directive and supportive. He reveals those characteristics of the best vocal accompanistsunderstated harmonic support with an inventive solo space, as exemplified by the likes of pianists Tommy Flanagan and Teddy Wilson. Dillard adds light hues to the disc.
Simple is as important as complex and is often more revealing, and Bruhn achieves both beautiful and informative simplicity on Nearness.
I’ll Be Seeing You; But Beautiful; Easy to Love; The Nearness of You; If
I Should Lose You; My Foolish Heart; Just in Time; Never Let Me Go; All
of You; Skylark.