Mary Pearson

You and I

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The title of this album refers to the accompaniment pattern for each of the tunes. There is no ensemble playing; vocalist Mary Pearson is backed by a lone instrumentalist on each track, ergo, the album title You and I. "Thou Swell" is a duet between Steve Davis' traps and Pearson's singing, a device being used with great frequency on albums by contemporary jazz vocalists. Instead of following a routine, steady beat, Davis' drums take a jagged turn as counterpoint to Pearson's plaintive rendition of the lyric. Then things pick up when Pearson's vocalizing takes on the same rhythmic patterns as Davis' drums. This tune is about the closest thing to an uptempo tune on the album as well as an imaginative arrangement of this Rodgers & Hart chestnut. Drums are also the principal backing on a very "lazy" rendition of "Lazy Afternoon." With "The More I See You," the piano of Lynne Arriale allies with Pearson's contemplative version of this tune written for the 1945 film Diamond Horseshoe where it was introduced by Dick Haymes. One of the album's high points is the hushed performance of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" with John Hart's guitar taking on the role of bass player Arild Andersen when he backed Sheila Jordan during her 1977 seminal recording of this tune. Veteran bass player Harvie Swartz takes center stage with Pearson as they stroll through "How Long Has This Been Going on?." Pearson's interpretation of this tune, as much as any, crystallizes her awesome understanding of the lyrics of the songs she sings coupled with the ability to convey that meaning to the listener. The interplay between her and Swartz is surreal. In contrast to the mood created by "How Long...," "My Funny Valentine" comes across very brightly, even though like all other tracks, it is sung in slow-ballad style. Pianist Fred Hersch joins Pearson on a quirky reading of Paul Desmond's classic "Take Five" and an endearing "Over the Rainbow." The vocalist herself penned three of the play list's 12 songs, which she treats almost as folk songs. A nice touch is that the lyrics for these originals are printed in the liner notes. Apt descriptors like contemplative, introspective, and melancholy come to mind in connection with the quiet atmosphere created by Pearson and her confreres on this session. You and I is a formidable and recommended introduction to the world of recordings by Mary Pearson.

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