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Tommy Cecil: Our Time: Sondheim Duos, Volume 2

Dr. Judith Schlesinger By

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This is the follow-up to the 2012 Side By Side: Sondheim Duos by the same brilliant pairing of Tommy Cecil, bass, and Bill Mays, piano. From the opener, the jaunty "Everybody Says Don't" (from Anyone Can Whistle, 1964), it's clear that this 2013 session will unfold like the first—laced with superb technique, imaginative arrangements, feeling and wit. And also like Volume 1, this session neatly punctures the old cliché that Sondheim may be a gifted lyricist, but cannot write beautiful melodies; once again, these players bring each gem to full gleam with the power and variety of their interpretations.

In fact, three of Sondheim's most gorgeous tunes are here: "Johanna," with its yearning message underscored by Cecil's rich arco; "Losing My Mind," where Mays uses dissonance to suggest the process of doing precisely that; and the anthemic "Being Alive," a favorite cabaret belter that gets a more thoughtful and jazzy treatment here. On the rollicking numbers, Cecil and Mays provide consistent delight, which is an increasingly rare commodity among today's popular sounds. There is playfulness and discovery here, especially when the two trade fours and sprinkle quotes.

Among many such moments, there's a "Bye Bye Blackbird" interchange in the midst of something else, an abrupt and funny nod to "The Toreador Song," and a fade-out vamp with classic "Killer Joe." And meanwhile, it all swings like crazy. All told, Our Time provides the ideal musical combination: it's food for the brain, joy to the ears, and a boost to the spirit.

Track Listing: Everybody Says Don’t; Johanna; Our Time; Moments in the Woods; Finishing the Hat; The Miller’s Son; Losing My Mind; The Best Thing That Has Ever Happened; Agony; Being Alive; Rich and Happy.

Personnel: Tommy Cecil: bass; Bill Mays: piano.

Title: Our Time: Sondheim Duos, Volume 2 | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Tommy Cecil

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