Perhaps the real test of any virtuoso is a solo album, allowing the musician to carry the weight of rhythm and lead, and to do so in a fashion that holds the listener's attention. Johnny Varro takes the test in The Two of Us and passes it with style and pizzazz. Most of the 20 songs on his set list run around three minutes, providing plenty of time to set up the melody and offer a number of variations on the main theme. Varro made his rep playing swing during the 1950s, and he continues to swing hard on upbeat versions of "Green Dolphin Street" and "Lullaby of Birdland." Varro's choice of tunes, though, cuts a wide swath across 20th century jazz, from Jelly Roll Morton's "The Pearls" to Robert Wells/Mel Tormé's "Born to Be Blue" to Rodgers & Hart's "I Could Write a Book." He also draws from outside the jazz canon, creating a lovely medley with the Beatles' "Yesterday" and "Here, There and Everywhere," and penned the title cut himself. Varro's swing roots guarantee that each of these pieces is filled with a spontaneous joy that flows effortlessly from the master's fingers. The Two of Us serves as a nice introduction to those who may not be familiar with Varro, and as an intimate recording sure to please longtime fans.
The Two of Us: Piano Series, Vol. 13 Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.