It's a simple concept. Josh Kyle's voice, Sam Keevers' piano and a selection of Songs Of Friends
. It's a beautifully executed concept though: voice, instrument and compositions blend together in a worthy tribute from the young Australian vocalist.
Kyle's friends are all Australian jazz musicians and writers. He's taken their tunes, added his own lyrics and joined with Keeversa long-time inspirationto breathe life into the resulting songs. There's two tunes by Keevers, three from saxophonist Sean Coffin, one by pianist Daniel Gassin
(an ex-band mate of the singer). There's also "One Moment, Please" by vocalist Kristin Berardion which Kyle retains the original words as well as music. Songs Of Friends
opens with a Keevers tune, "Simple Pleasures." Gently rolling piano opens the song, then Kyle swoops in with his first phrase, "My heart is yours, my love is pure." It's a stunning entrance, Kyle's alto voice sounding almost androgynous at first, with the emotional openness (if not the fragility) of Antony Hegarty, from Antony and the Johnsons. The voice is as pure as the love he expresses in the song.
Keevers proves to be a graceful and unselfish accompanist. He has a strong, percussive, left hand when necessarywell-suited to Coffin's upbeat, punchy, "All The Reasons" and "Breathe." He's also capable of playing with a far more delicate touch, as he shows on two of the album's more downbeat songs. On "Cutez" (Coffin's third contribution) his introduction builds slowly and gently towards Kyle's vocal entrance, his playing setting a mood to match that evoked by the lyrics. On "Ballad Of The Cranes," his own composition, Keevers brings a more spiritual feel to his playing to complement the imagery of Kyle's words.
Kyle opens Gassin's "Crossover" alone, the purity of his voice emphasised once more on this meditative song. He keeps close to Berardi's own version of "One Moment, Please." It's a slow, stately, ballad with melancholy words and Kyle and Keever give the tune plenty of space to work its magic.
Kyle recorded his debut album, Possibilities
(Jazzizit, 2011), with top-flight British players when he was resident in the UK. The stripped-down accompaniment on Songs Of Friends
gives his voice more exposure and it doesn't disappoint. Keevers is a fine pianist: Kyle is a confident, stylish singer and lyricist. Let's hope there's plenty more to come from the duo of Kyle and Keevers.
Simple Pleasures; All The Reasons; Cutez; Breathe; Ballad Of The Cranes; Crossover;
One Moment, Please.
Josh Kyle: vocals; Sam Keevers: piano.