After You is the eighth album for the Washington, D.C-based husband and wife team of singer Ronnie Wells and pianist Ron Elliston. A live performance at the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center in Laurel, MD, this is more Elliston's album than Wells'. His long solo before Wells comes in for the last chorus on "After You" harbingers Elliston's dominant contributions to the album. There are also two instrumentals on this session which feature Elliston's unabashedly Bill Evans influenced piano, "Beatrice" and "Everything Happens to Me." On the latter, he is ably aided and abetted by Paul Wingo's guitar and Jon Metzger's vibes. But the album's tour de force is "Alone Together" where each member of the group gets the opportunity to romp. Elliston's piano takes on a march-like tempo which when combined with Wells' stoic rendition of the lyrics, creates an unusual aural sensation. Then, starting with Tony Williams' boppish, swinging alto, each musician makes a personal statement during this nine minute plus version of the Dietz-Schwartz classic. There are many surprises on this album, like Tony Williams' reprising "It Don't Mean a Thing" behind Wells' combination of humming and scatting on "Alone Togther." The session ends with Wells' blues-drenched, slightly suggestive offering of Denise LaSalle's "Someone Else is Steppin In," renamed "Steppin Out" here. Ronnie Wells is a treasure. She has the requisite talent to carry on in the tradition of Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae, with a dollop of Betty Carter thrown in for seasoning. Wells can swing, sing jazz songs and ballads and do the blues as good as anyone on today's vocal scene - and better than most. Ronnie Wells deserves be a familiar name to every lover of the jazz vocal tradition.
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