Becca Duran

If You Could See Me Now

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Building upon the artistic success of their last collaboration, Song for Rita, vocalist Becca Duran and multi-instrumentalist Jay Thomas have produced another session of relaxed jazz. This time around, they have obtained the services of jazz organist George Mitchell, who adds grits and greens to the blues numbers Duran favors, such as "Going to Chicago" and "Born to Be Blue." In addition to the blues, the play list has more familiar material in the form of classic standards. Duran handles each of them with her highly developed skill of phrasing and intonation, fully capturing the essence of what she sings. Although plenty of room is allotted for everyone to solo, it's the presence of Thomas with Duran that compels the attention of jazz lovers. He moves back and forth between reeds and horns with ease. His flügelhorn on "He Was Too Good to Me," with Mitchell's organ underneath, creates a premiere track. He switches to trumpet on a medium-paced "I Wish I Knew." As much as any, this track reveals the results of the close association of Duran and Thomas; the song becomes as much a conversation as a vocal. His blues-laden sax comes into play on "Ain't Got Nothin' but the Blues." If You Could See Me Now is as laid-back as it gets. Nothing gets very loud, which fits Duran's style to a T. While her voice is firm and steady, she's not a shouter, and all the instrumentalists accommodate themselves accordingly. This album is best described by recalling those now rare small smoke-filled clubs with tightly packed knowledgeable customers caught up in the intimacy created by the performers. That these artists can create the same feeling in a sterile studio is to their credit. Recommended.

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