Review by Tree Palmedo -
It was a simpler time when this album was recorded back in February. And on the surface, the project seems like a similarly simple affair, with six classic standards and an original tune rendered by a highly competent pianist/vocalist duo. But that pianist, Matt Tabor, and that vocalist, Thea Enos, have used a simple framework to accomplish something quite extraordinary. Through a series of inspired and unexpected arrangements, the duo breathe a bit of magic into each song, making for an engaging listen and a perfect musical balm for troubling times.
Some of the material covered is well-worn territory, such as Juan Tizol’s classic “Caravan.” Tabor rises to the challenge, kicking off the tune with a slow and syrupy introduction before plunging into a fast Latin groove with an evocative new chord progression. Enos’s delivery is appropriately dramatic, her voice swooping over Tabor’s ever-shifting piano textures. Meanwhile, Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” gets a melancholy, Coltrane-esque reharmonization with a sensitive vocal performance and a crisp McCoy Tyner-esque piano solo.
Other renditions are delivered in a more standard mode, but the performances are still engaging: “Almost Like Being in Love,” for instance, gets a brisk bebop treatment that showcases Tabor’s quick-walking left hand. And the title track is a bluesy swinger that lets Enos get loose with vocal theatrics and smoky scat-singing.
The record’s lone original is also its only solo piano number. Tabor’s “Theaphania’s Smile” is a waltz full of left turns, a perfect showcase for its composer’s cascading lines. As is true of the rest of the album, the piece takes standard musical material and imbues it with craft, heart, and invention.