Even in the most dire times — when the latest news suggests that Armaggedon is closer than next month’s credit card bill, to be followed by a few days of polar vortex — beauty is always possible and sometimes it pays a call. You have only to be receptive to it and ready to sit still for three-quarters of an hour: and you arise from the experience nourished, joyous, rebalanced.
The creators of this latest gift of beauty are pianist Jeremy Kahn and guitarist Andy Brown — both Chicagoans, and Andy should be familiar to readers of this blog. They performed a brief yet utterly fulfilling recital in November of last year — at the serene space provided by PianoForte in Chicago. On paper, it was devoted to the inspired teamwork created by Bill Evans and Jim Hall, but don’t let that trick you into thinking they were imitating UNDERCURRENT, for example.
Both Jeremy and Andy are supreme melodists who pay homage to the composers and the moods created by the original songs, but they also are having fun conversing and playing. Nothing here is childish — ask any pianist or guitarist how many decades of hard work it takes to play this way for even four beats — but they both are humorous, and sly quotes pass back and forth, including a nod to the WEST END BLUES cadenza that I will let you find for yourselves. Or, if you’re impatient for high-level joyous musical tennis, go directly to I’LL NEVER SMILE AGAIN with its impish repartee or the closing MY FUNNY VALENTINE that I can only describe as slightly at an angle and happy to be there. This is marvelous music, and it gently swings; it’s never too-much-of-the-same-thing. I’m so grateful it happened and was recorded.
The compositions are DARN THAT DREAM / YOU GO TO MY HEAD / I’M GETTING SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU / STAIRWAY TO THE STARS / I’LL NEVER SMILE AGAIN / MY FUNNY VALENTINE:
What a gift to us all. I am, like everyone else in this century, trained by bright lights and rapidly-changing stimuli to be more impatient, but I sat for the entirety of this set, entranced: it passed like a light-hearted dream.
May your happiness increase!