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Peter Eldridge and Kenny Werner: Somewhere

Dan Bilawsky By

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Approximately ten years ago, pianist Kenny Werner invited his Berklee colleague, vocalist Peter Eldridge, to the studio for a library music recording session. When Eldridge arrived, expecting an intimate duo setup, he received the shock of a lifetime: Werner was there with an orchestra, 40 deep. That curve ball, which Eldridge, of course, took in stride, proved to be a gift, as it planted the seed for this lush bouquet of a project.

Recalling classic singer-arranger pairings of yesteryear and painting with a touch of modernity, Eldridge and Werner deliver a set of vivid stories that prove timeless in their telling. A 20-piece orchestra plus sensitive souls like bassist Matt Aronoff and drummer Yoron Israel play their parts to perfection. Werner's arrangements envelop Eldridge's voice while his piano proves to be the model of taste. And Eldridge's deep thoughts, daydreams and perambulations prove profound. He opens his heart for all to hear, laying it atop beds of elegant design.

While this project contains some familiar material—a largo love-ache in the form of "You Don't Know Me," a tender meeting of "Somewhere" and "A Time For Love"—the originals prove just as compelling. A waltzing "Autumn In Three," with music from Werner and lyrics from Eldridge, presents with fall colors and falling leaves while gently bounding along in style; Werner's "Ballad For Trane," graced with George Garzone's tenor saxophone and poetic lyrics courtesy of Douglas Worth, honors its namesake with a coolly passionate sweep; and Eldridge's "Difficult," supported by conductor-arranger Eugene Friesen's string carousel, delivers a swirling taste of possibility.

Each of the aforementioned performances offer innumerable riches, but the greatest gift of all here proves to be Eldridge's "That Which Can't Be Explained." To simply say it's moving or soul-stirring doesn't do it justice. This song, in this particular arrangement, cuts to the very core of existence and experience. Peter Eldridge and Kenny Werner have each triumphed in myriad settings over the years, but together they serve as architects of rare beauty. Somewhere doesn't simply present songs. It suggests life, with all of the joy, pain and promise that come with it.

Track Listing: You Don't Know Me; I'm So Glad You're Mine; That Which Can't Be Explained; Autumn In Three; Minds Of Their Own; Less Than Lovers; Difficult; Ballad For Trane; Somewhere/A Time For Love; Untitlted Lament; Day Is Done (Prayer For Diego).

Personnel: Peter Eldridge: vocals, piano (7); Kenny Werner: piano, electric piano, string arrangements; Eugene Friesen: cello, string arrangement (7), conductor; Matt Aronoff: bass; Yoron Israel: drums; George Garzone: tenor saxophone (8); Bengisu Gokce: violin; Louisa Byron: violin; Sienna Seoyeon Im: violin; Francesco Rijks: violin; Tania Mesa: violin; Ruah Yeonsong Kim: violin; Cansu Oyzurek: violin; Cynthia (Pei Hua) Lin: violin; Tim Bilodeau: violin; Louise Bichan: violin; Cecelia Cook: viola; Gerson Equiguren: viola; Jenny Frantz: viola; Cristobal Cruz Garcia: cello; Aodan Collins: cello; Peter Yuezhang Liu: cello; Victor Gonzalez: bass; Marcelo MacCagnan: bass; Tatyana Phillips: harp.

Title: Somewhere | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Rosebud Music

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