The mood implied by the title of Jody Sandhaus' maiden album is expressed by many tunes found on the play list. Winter is cold and desolate, while the bright moon is a beacon of better things to come. On no other tunes does this theme come through with greater force than on poet and lyricist Fran Landesman's "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men," which she wrote with constant collaborator Tommy Wolf. This poetry put to music promises relief for those young men who have been wandering through life without purpose. Abbey Lincoln's poignant "Not in Love" heads in a similar direction. The first chorus of the title tune "Winter Moon" is a sonata for voice and bass in the hands of Sandhaus and master bassist and teacher Rufus Reid. This close-to-classical presentation is evident on other cuts as well, like "For All We Know." Here, Sandhaus works in a dignified setting with pianist Pete Malinverni. The delicate Malinverni piano is critical to the aura of sympathetic understanding that characterizes this session. While the album leans toward the melancholy, it is by no means bereft of brighter moments that uplift the spirits. A seductive "Caravan" and a matter-of-fact "I Should Care" are among the best in this category. But whatever the tempo and mien, Sandhaus stays with the melody, avoiding vocal aerobatics like swoops and scatting and limiting note bending to no more than what's necessary to make her interpretative point. Irrespective of the type of song she is singing, Sandhaus manages to stay relaxed and at ease on all the tunes she delivers. At all times, she treats the lyrics with affection combined with respect. Winter Moon is a fine first-out-of-the-gate album and holds out great promise of more good things in the future. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan