Bennett Paster (piano), Paul Beaudry (bass), and Tony Jefferson (drums) really set the tone for Ellynne Rey's A Little Bit of Moonlight in the intro to Make Someone Happy. The immortal Dindi is a weeper-cool classic, but Rey does something I've been wanting to hear for quite some time, injecting an upbeat tempo and tons of wistful smiles, almost reconverting the song…but not quite. It's still faithful but no longer on the down-lo, instead refreshingly sweet and full of girl-next-door desire. And I think we can call Rey a female crooner…but not always, as she has more than one musical poker in the fire.
She couldn't have chosen better, though, than when she picked Bennett for the lead spot beneath her. The guy understands EXACTLY where the punctuations go and then shines like a star in solos, especially during Mal Waldron's Soul Eyes, bringing everything he does to its highest pitch. The guy can be delicate as bone china one moment and exuberant the next, neither trait clashing with the other in the least, no matter how closely allied. Ah, but then there's a set of Rey duets with famed guitarist Gene Bertoncini, starting with a really cool exercise in Charlie Byrd tonalities in How Deep is the Ocean. These numbers perhaps best illuminate Rey's bottom line, with Invitation later showing where her interpretations arise. Listen carefully, however, when Gene re-appears with the band in Blue in Green.
Suddenly It's Spring picks up the pace again, but Moonlight is chiefly mellifluous on the up side of moody and wistful. If the bass intro to What a Little Moonlight Can Do doesn't make your heart skip a beat, then, brother, you may already be dead, and I'd check with a doctor just in case. Bertoncini glides in to make the cut a trio, Rey bops around a bit, and soon we're back in Jazz Pan Alley days, everyone swingin' 'n grinnin'. The disc features a generous 15 songs, and I suggest you reserve it for romantic occasions, to set the mood in satin and velvet. On the other hand, it'd sure go well with a rainy night or as accompaniment to a midnight cruise down a lonely highway. Whatever the milieu, Ms. Rey and her musics set the stage for the more thoughtful side of life and love, and if you decide to take a raincheck on that, well, don't be surprised if in your aesthetic library you get Scooby-Doo and The Archies comic books instead of literature.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles