It's often true in jazz that many talented musicians are under the radar of the average fan because they choose not to travel much outside their home cities or record only sporadically, usually for locally based labels. Pianist Earma Thompson, who evidently belatedly made her debut (after performing for over half a century) with this 2004 release for The Sirens, has chops to spare throughout this rewarding CD, mostly duets with bassist John Whitfield. Her playfulness comes through in the swinging take of "Just in Time," while Thompson's spunky side comes through in the bop favorite "Billie's Bounce." She adds a bossa nova beat to her hip interpretation of "You Stepped Out of a Dream," then adds a dark undercurrent to a swinging take of "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise." It is also hard to ignore the gutsy, blues-drenched interpretation of "After Hours" and a driving, soulful take of "Back at the Chicken Shack." Tenor saxophonist John Brumbach is added for Miles Davis' "Vierd Blues" and Gene Ammons' "Ge-ru." Hopefully a follow-up CD is already in the works. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden