Nancy Reed

A Time for Love

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By their very nature, voice/piano duets are risky undertakings. There's no place for anyone to hide. The rhythm section or brass and woodwinds of a big band can't save you if things start to go awry. Unless the vocalist and the accompanist are together, the session will likely be a disaster. And the burden falls upon the pianist to accommodate the style of the singer. Fortunately, David Leonhardt as an accompanist is in the same league as the likes of Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Rowles, Ellis Larkins, Ralph Sharon, and Hank Jones. He also recalls Buddy Weed, who played for such contrasting performers as Billie Holiday and Johnny Ray. This is a recording of ballads delivered at a slow pace much in the style of Jeri Southern (a very undervalued singer) and Blossom Dearie. Although Reed sings nowhere as "quietly" as Dearie, she approaches the hushed tones which symbolize Dearie's style. Selections on this album range from the well-known to the not-so-often played. In the latter category "Little Boat," also recorded by Lorez Alexander, is especially appealing, as is the lovely "If You Never Come to Me" by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The inclusion of "Waltz for Debby" is welcome as the plaintive lyrics to Bill Evans' paean to his niece are not heard often enough. There's not much on this set approaching a high-speed delivery. Even "It's Only a Paper Moon" is delivered in slow, plaintive measures. One can tell that Reed is from New York (actually Brooklyn) as the NY accent creeps in from time to time, e.g., "idear" for idea. But that's a minor distraction. More important, Reed is blessed with a lovely tone and has a good instinct for jazz phrasing. This CD is a welcome addition to any collection.

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