Bobby Jackson, host of the radio show The Jazz Mind, agrees that "the duo format is the most vulnerable" other than a solo gig (which you pretty much must be half insane to essay, a mode rarely pulled off with complete artistic integrity), and, as I've noted, there's been an appreciable uptick in duets of late, but Maria Jacobs, in Art of the Duo, really puts a palpable twist on the mode, attributable to her frequently duskily sensual voice, most fully expounded in this CD's closer, a take on the classic Yeh Yeh…not quite a pure duet due to multitracking herself as a vocal chorus above Dan Maier's Donald Fagenesque piano. It wouldn't be inappropriate to call the performance 'wanton', but with plenty of class and a coolly smiling eros.
Seven of the nine songs are accompanied by Bob Fraser's supple swing-based guitar work, often a high-register counterpoint to Jacobs' more middle range residencies (though she can definitely hit the high notes, as in Summertime and elsewhere). Then there's the bass 'n vocals do-up of Lennon & McCartney's I Will, which brings out the song's otherwise hidden samba base more readily. What I was really happy to see, though, was an appearance of Phoebe Snow's Poetry Man. Ms. Snow is criminally overlooked, along with Janis Ian and others (and, hell, why isn't Joni Mitchell much more a staple in the firmament?), by rockers and jazzbos, so this was a very welcome surprise.
The opener, though, Alone Together, is a breathily soporific confection breezing in from a South Sea islet. Equally restrained, at least in its first half, is the follower, Small Tomorrow, fairly Waits-ian in nature, laconic but chipper in an unaffected lazy confidence, my favorite cut of the CD. By the time the halfway point of the song is reached, though, Jacobs' passion is aroused even amid the late summer drowse, inviting the listeners and amorphous subject of the lyrics to join her in that dreamy utopia…and, I'm tellin' ya, what with the way things are going right about now, I've more than half a mind to do just that, so, should you find no further critiques by yours truly in FAME in the near future, don't blame me, point the finger at Mara Jacobs; she's way too convincing by half.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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