Born in New Jersey Marty Elkins began working in Boston performing material associated with the Andrews Sisters. Her 1988 debut album was a duo recording with Dave McKenna (Nigel-Heyer CD114). (Ella Fitzgerald’s 1955 Do Nothin’ ’Till You Hear From Me with Ellis Larkins was a similar highly successful bare-bones affair.)
On this, her fifth CD, Ms Elkins is back in a duo setting, this time with the virtuoso bass player Mike Richmond. Her repertoire here comes from the golden age of popular music from Honeysuckle Rose (1929) to Old Devil Moon (1947) and is perfectly suited to her intimate delivery.
Her contralto, with its rich timbre, perfect diction and delicate vibrato, occasionally calls Lee Wiley and Chris Connor to mind. She handles difficult material like ’Tis Autumn (popularised by Nat “King” Cole) with aplomb and really lets her hair down on swingers like In A Mellow Tone, Lullaby Of The Leaves and Honeysuckle Rose. These titles also feature melodic scat choruses quite unlike the pyrotechnical displays of an Ella or Anita O’Day but are just as musical. She gets a suitably down-home feel on I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues which is a 32-bar AABA form and not really a blues at all.
Mike Richmond, with his huge sound, is a tower of strength throughout whether on his 170-year-old Tyrolean bass or on his 120-year-old cello.
Old Devil Moon; In A Mellow Tone; ’Tis Autumn; When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along; Stairway To The Stars; Lullaby Of The Leaves; My Mother’s Eyes; Honeysuckle Rose; I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues; All Or Nothing At All (47.07)
Elkins (v); Richmond (b, clo). Paramus, New Jersey, 29-30 August 2019.