Tanel Ruben & Victoria

A Sentimental Call

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Estonian jazz pop may not be the most immediate of musical phrases that generally come to mind, but that's the case with this duo of Tanel Ruben on drums and percussion, Victoria on vocals, and a variety of supporting players fleshing out the arrangements on this album. It's perhaps more accurate to say that A Sentimental Call is more like the Pizzicato Five of said Baltic country, or perhaps the Everything But the Girl -- there's the same easygoing reinterpretation of various '50s and '60s Euro and Brazilian pop influences in a different context, and quite affectingly at that. Covering recordings from three years, A Sentimental Call hangs together very well as a singular listening experience, good testimony to the performers' abilities. Victoria has an enjoyable voice, rich with an intriguing catch in her timbre, and one could easily imagine her four decades back tackling a classic Bacharach/David nugget without a worry. Ruben's a sharp enough player, steering away from solos to keep the grooves going, while the remaining performers add in the vibes, bass, keyboards, and more to create sharp if not always surprising turns in the idiom. However, when it can, the ensemble comes up with some definite winners. The addition of strings on songs like the title track -- not to mention a couple of great breaks by Ruben and bassist Taavo Remmel -- makes it a winner, while Ruben's steady work on "I Will Find the Way" almost suggests trip-hop, but in a slightly different vein. About all songs like "Somewhere Here Between" seem to be missing is Stan Getz coming in for a breezy solo, though Mihkel Metsala does a fine job on trumpet for that on "I'm Gonna Drive You Insane."