Helen Merrill

No Tears, No Goodbyes

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Helen Merrill is backed by one of Europe's finest jazz keyboardists, Gordon Beck, on this duo date from 1984. Switching among piano, electric piano, and electric organ, Beck provides sensitive backing for the gifted singer, who is in fine form throughout. The best tracks feature Merrill with the grand piano, including a haunting but beautiful miniature arrangement of Cole Porter's "I Love Paris," which segues immediately into a solo feature for Beck with his own "I Love Paris Too." They repeat the formula somewhat with Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," followed by Beck's "I Got It Good," though the latter piece is an unsatisfying mix of all three instruments overdubbed together with Merrill providing brief backing vocals. "Poor Butterfly" is all but owned by the late Sarah Vaughan, though Merrill's emotional interpretation is well worth hearing. Beck places some down-home piano in support of her swinging take of the old warhorse "Bye Bye Blackbird." With the demise of Owl, this recommended CD will be somewhat challenging to acquire.

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