Lizzie Thomas: Duo Encounters

NYC singer reinvents standards in a series of duets with Ron Carter, Rossano Sportiello, Russell Malone, Wayne Escoffery and others

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The clue’s in the title here as singer Thomas is paired up with a different instrumentalist for each piece in a conservative selection of songs. She brings an interpretive depth to everything and as in the case of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, in the company of guitarist Ron Affif, puts an individual stamp on the song. That’s no mean feat given the song’s place in the popular canon; for this reviewer she manages to extract pathos the like of which the lyric has rarely been invested with.

Ron Carter brings all of his unassuming authority to bear on Willow Weep For Me and combines with Thomas to the extent that the result is an unusually co-operative performance as bass player and singer simultaneously complement and accomodate each other. This stark, necessarily intimate setting has been explored on record in the past by Sheila Jordan and Harvey Swartz

Lush Life features the duo of Thomas and Escoffery. If voice and tenor saxophone seem an unlikely pairing, then close listening will reveal the extent of their artistry as the two lines coalesce and draw apart in a manner born of intuitive understanding.

The voice and bass duo recurs on Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, with Noriko Ueda being the other half of the duo. This second example suggests that Thomas has it in her to sustain an entire album with nothing but bass, especially as in this case she wrings much in the way of emotional nuance out of the lyric without once resorting to vacuous emoting.

Discography
Love For Sale; Willow Weep For Me; After You Who?; My Foolish Heaart; Nature Boy; Both Sides Now; Have You Met Miss Jones?; Lush Life; You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me; Smile; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; ’Round Midnight (52.16)
Thomas (v); Wayne Escoffery (ts); Helio Alves, John Di Martino, Rossano Sportiello (p); Russell Malone, Ron Affif (elg); Guilherme Monteiro (g); Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf (clo); Ron Carter, Dezron Douglas, Noriko Ueda (b); Cafe da Silva (pc). Bass Hit, Samurai Hotel and Tedesco Studios, no locations.
Dot Time Records DT9122