You and I is a disc that had to grow on me over several listenings. And grow on me it did. My first spin left me mostly unmoved. The music and approach were interesting, but not novel. The concept of a vocal duet with various instruments is nothing new. It is not really that far out there that this disc had the voice coupled with each of the standard jazz rhythm section instruments. I had heard this all before with varying degrees of success. However, my subsequent listenings revealed a music of subtle richness, like a fine cup of coffee after dinner. This music is something to be acquired, savored and ultimately enjoyed.
You and I is the jazz modification of the classical voice-instrument recital. The majority of duets are the traditional piano voice configuration followed by guitar, drums and bass duets. The central instrument in all is the voice that is supplied by the very able Mary Pearson. Her voice is a seamless chameleon alto that purrs in one phrase and growls in the next. In all cases, Pearson sings with great lyricism and melody. The unadorned environment of the duet offers her ample room to experiment and otherwise show off her considerable technique and talent.
As one might expect, the piano duets (followed closely by the guitar setups) are the most accessible and effective pieces. For this recital, the brilliant balladeers, Fred Hersch and Lynne Arriale provide piano support for Pearson. In the Hersch propelled "Over the Rainbow" and the Arriale driven "My Funny Valentine" do we find the disc highlights. On the other end of consideration are the drum duets. In this setting, Pearson is given the maximum room to perform as the drums provide only the rhythm of the piece. I have a soft place for voice bass duets. The bass still allows a great deal of room but adds a harmonic element to the duet that the drums cannot. My only quibble with this disc is that only one rather than two pieces were framed in a bass-voice duet.
This is a very engaging disc that I would suggest to anyone needing music for that special evening. It would be equally at home as the background for a party or a more intimate occasion.
Track Listing: Lazy Afternoon; The More I See You; Take Five; What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life; I Am Yours / You Are Mine; You And I; In Your Arms; How Long Has This Been Going On; My Funny Valentine; I Can't Believe; Over The Rainbow. (Total Time: 55:00)
Personnel: Mary Pearson: Vocals; Steve Davis: Drums; Lynn Arriale, Fred Hersch; David Lahm: Piano; John Hart: Guitar; Harvie Swartz: Bass.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.