Great male and female jazz vocal duos are rare as hen's teeth. Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé? Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan? Now there's a pair of new kids on the blockTed and Gladys. Or is there? Check the sleeve of The Rhythm Of Life: Ted & Gladys and all is not quite as it seems. The dodgy photos of the musicians in their younger daysespecially Gladys and guitarist Chris Allardare a tad puzzling and the lady and gentleman on the cover photo are rather familiar. The credits make it clearTed and Gladys are the noms de musique of the husband and wife team of bassist Geoff Gascoyne and singer Trudy Kerr.
Ted and Gladys may be new to the scene but Gascoyne and Kerr are established figures in UK jazz. Gascoyne has been the bassist for Jamie Cullum and Georgie Fame among others. Kerr has released many albums under her own name including Like Minds (Jazzizit Records, 2009) with pianist Michael Garrick. On The Rhythm Of Life: Ted & Gladys Kerr and Gascoyne present a mix of their original songs and cover versions including Blossom Dearie's "Hey John" (about John Lennon) and Bob Lind's "Elusive Butterfly."
Two cover versions are especially impressive. Cy Coleman's "The Rhythm of Life," with its driving rhythm and genuine pace, showcases fine solos from Tom Cawley on piano and Andy Panayi on tenor sax. Kerr adds lyrics and vocal to Eddie Harris' "Without You" to create a gentle song of lost love, backed by Gascoyne's acoustic bass and Anthony Kerr's spare and considered vibraphone playing.
The best of Kerr and Gascoyne's creations are characterized by an engaging melody, lyrics which tell stories and some deft playing from the band. "Been So Long" features Anthony Kerr's sparkling vibes. Trudy Kerr's vocal is sultry yet vulnerable. "Rosie" is a tale of first love, with the heartbreak such a thing entails when everyone involved is yet to reach their teens. It's a lovely song, Kerr's light and wistful vocal underpinned by a surprisingly joyous tune and Martin Shaw's trumpet solo gets the emotional impact just right. "Lovely Blue Dress" is more upbeat: a lighthearted story of the impact of the titular clothing on Kerr's social life (among other things).
Ted and Gladys may never be spoken of in the same breath as Apollo C Vermouth and Winston O'Boogie but Kerr and Gascoyne, already well-respected artists, will only enhance their reputations with this album full of stylish and engaging songs.
Been So Long; The Rhythm Of Life; Save Me; Beat Of My Heart; Poppies; Lovely Blue Dress; Rosie; Letter By Letter; Girl Alone; Hey John; Elusive Butterfly; With These Hands; Without You.
Trudy Kerr: vocals; Geoff Gascoyne: bass, backing vocals; Martin Shaw: trumpet; Andy Panayi: tenor saxophone, flute; Tom Cawley: piano, Fender Rhodes; Anthony Kerr: vibraphone; Chris Allard: guitar; Matt Home: drums; Ashley Slater: trombone (3).