Petra Van Nuis & Andy Brown: I Remember Julie

Chicago voice and guitar duo pay poignant tribute to Julie London and Lonely Girl, her 1956 recording with Al Viola


The Julie in question is Julie London, and in her note for this release Petra Van Nuis is disarmingly honest about the extent to which London inspired her to become a jazz singer.

Accordingly, Van Nuis’s approach places her firmly and positively in an era when depth of interpretation and the ability to read or even “live” a lyric was prized. She brings this to bear on Here’s That Rainy Day, and thus mines the lyric with a depth similar to that of June Christy, while Brown evokes the spirit of Al Viola.

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most is a title with a lyrical clue in it, and Van Nuis picks up on it in a way that escapes singers of a more rhetorical, blustering kind. Here, as elsewhere, it’s as if she’s “digested” the lyric to the point where nuance comes as naturally as breathing. Here again she’s blessed in having Brown as her accompanist.

Loneliness on a conceptual level, as also suggested in Van Nuis’s note, informs Here’s That Rainy Day, a song which, if handled as sensitively and empathetically as it is here, is nicely melancholic. Brown’s intro serves notice of his abilities as a practitioner of the jazz-guitar school that stretches from George Barnes to Howard Alden, while Van Nuis serves further notice of her interpretive skills.

In short, this is a lovely little set that makes no great claims, and instead reiterates values that are timeless in the sense that no amount of reiteration seems to lessen them.

Lonely Girl; Trav’lin Light; You’ve Changed; The End Of The World; Something Cool; Here’s That Rainy Day; The Meaning Of The Blues; Blues In The Night; It Never Entered My Mind; I Should Care; Baby Won’t You Please Come Home; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; Cry Me A River (58.40)
Van Nuis (v); Andy Brown (g). August 2021.
String Damper Records SDR-2139