Australian vocalist and harpist Tara Minton
and English bassist Ed Babar
have been performing together for a few years, as part of the jazz ensemble Harp's Bazaar. Babar also appeared on Minton's engaging Please Do Not Ignore The Mermaid
(Lateralize Records, 2020). This camaraderie is apparent on their first duo release, the aptly titled, Two For The Road
. On it the pair cover a dozen standards with their signature versatility and fiery elegance.
For instance, "Jazz Autographs," from the motion picture "The Terminal" , has a dramatic ambience. Babar's lyrical and sparse reverberations contrast with and complement Minton's shimmering strums. The individual improvisations interweave and create divergent mirror images which result in an intriguingly unique interpretation of composer John Williams
' film score. Henry Mancini's "Two For The Road" is intimate, with hints of western classical influences; Minton accompanies her own yearning singing with resonant and cascading strings; Babar enhances the melancholic mood with his evocative con-arco lines.
There is no doubt that Minton is a gifted vocalist. Whether she is performing a haunting vocalise on bassist & producer Geoff Gascoyne
's "Life In A Bubble" or echoing saxophonist Stan Sulzmann
's warm refrains on pianist John Taylor
's "Whirlpool," her sensual voice and expressive delivery delight and thrill. However, she excels even more as a harpist. Harp pioneer Dorothy Ashby
's "Games" features Minton's agile and sophisticated phrases flowing with soulful grace over percussionist Lilia Iontcheva
's effervescent beats. Minton embellishes the exciting melody with vibrant spontaneity and subtle passion.
Bassist Dave Holland
's "What We Have To Be" allows Sulzmann the spotlight for an emotive and simmering extemporization which glows with indigo hues and stimulates with its intelligence. Babar lays down the percolating cadence with his deep, dark reverberating tones. He also showcases his instrumental prowess as he takes center stage on such classic pieces as Thelonious Monk
's "'Round Midnight." He tenderly plays the main theme as Minton supports him with her rhythmic flourishes. Babar then reverently deconstructs the tune as Minton underscores his solo with angular sonic swirls. Two For The Road
is a captivating album which is both singularly creative and quite accessible. Minton and Babar have chosen their material carefully and deliver it with sophisticated panache. Hopefully it is just the beginning of an exciting collaboration between these two dynamic musicians.
Life In A Bubble; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; Games; What We Have To Be; Caravan; You Go To My
Head; 'Round Midnight; Whirlpool; The Shadow Of Your Smile; Jazz Autographs; Blackbird; Two For The
Road; Life In A Bubble - Epilogue.