Helen Merrill

In Tokyo

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The first in a series of little-known but sublime Helen Merrill sessions recorded in Japan during the mid-'60s, In Tokyo pairs the singer with drummer Takeshi Inomata, whose atmospheric small combo arrangements evoke (and subtly update) her classic Mercury efforts. The set relies heavily on romantic standards like "Someday My Prince Will Come," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," and "I'm a Fool to Want You," all perfectly calibrated to Merrill's lithe, lovely vocals -- at first blush, Inomata's cool, textured arrangements emphasize restraint almost to the point of effortlessness, but upon subsequent listening the album emerges as a model of sophistication and grace.