Ralph Lalama and Dave Lalama grew up in a home surrounded by the Great American Songbook which resulted in a highly evolved affinity, almost genetically implanted deep within their DNA appreciation for the songs of yesteryear. Both have made a career of music and have mastered the many nuances of the jazz language. Their new recording, The Crepuscule Variations is a celebration of their common past and their love of the art form, and more importantly the parents who introduced and enriched their lives with the art form. They describe the preparation for recording the CD, "this particular recording, no tangible preparation (unless one feels eating and discussing tunes and keys a rehearsal!) was at work here. We decided to emulate our live improvisational duo gigs in the Systems Two studio. When I told the Executive Producer (our father) what we were going to do, he said "Really? Just the TWO of you? I think you'd better ask Nicole to sing on it!" Nicole Pasternak Lalama is Ralph's wife and her voice and interpretations of the classic melodies and lyrics is what inspired the name of the CD, The Crepuscule Variations.
The three demonstrate old school influences combined with post-bop expressions. Nicole's vocals have a gorgeous, enlivening texture that brings the melodies of the seven tracks she sings on to life. The other six selections are presented in a duet setting with Dave on piano and Ralph on saxophone. The recording shows a respect to the classics and modern jazz elements in numbers like "Just in Time" and "The Days of Wine and Roses" and "All of Me." The slow, fluid building of melodic lines are the focus of both brothers and when they improvise together, the counterpoint is something special. The rippling nuances in Nicole's vocals demonstrate complete control and intimate knowledge of the meaning of the lyrics, especially in songs like, "I Love You for Sentimental Reasons," "I Don't Know Why (I Love You Like I Do)" and "The Shadow of Your Smile."
The catchy pulse of the brothers driving rhythm develops an atmosphere that clearly delineates the time and feel of each selection, which is no small feat for a duet. Both brothers are masters on their instruments with Dave's sophisticated chords and smoldering right hand work and Ralph's pronounced clarity and warmth of tone and melodic flow through the harmonic progressions. The relaxed waltz feel of "There Will Never Be Another You" is a study in duet expansions and contractions, driven by smart accompaniment of Dave on the piano, Ralph displays a kindred connection to the many possibilities throughout the well-known harmonic landscape. Their connection to the song is perceivable and the thoughtful variations have no problem pulling the listener into their intimate conversation.
Charismatic and elegant, this small ensemble presentation is a real gem. Nicole's vocals give a unique quality and class while the brother's duet work is a genuine study in quality jazz phrasing and variations. A natural classic jazz style gives this project the credibility to make it to your player and it will not disappoint with repeated listens.
Just in Time; Time After Time; The Days of Wine and Roses; Moon River; All of Me; The Shadow of Your Smile; I Love You for Sentimental Reasons; A House Is Not a Home; I’m Confessin’(That I Love You); Embraceable You; I Don’t Know Why (I Love You Like I Do; There Will Never Be Another You; Here’s That Rainy Day.
Dave Lalama: piano; Ralph Lalama: saxophone; Nicole Pasternak-Lalama: vocal.
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