The album is opened with Exactly Like You by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. Elizabeth’s husband, Lee Tomboulian is the fine pianist who turns in a cool honky-tonk turn with Cliff Schmidt on bass and Alvester Garnett on drums. Elizabeth is fun and sassy and in total control.
The second track is a wonder. It is a mini-suite of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Bill Evans’ Re: Person I Knew. It is an extraordinary arrangement by the Tomboulians and Roseanna Vitro. Elizabeth nails the vocals and Lee’s touching piano work (especially in the Evans section) are beautifully supported by Schmidt and Garnett with a cool muted trumpet by Ingrid Jensen. Who would have thought that Cyndi Lauper could be so excellently interpreted in Jazz?
Another combined piece of Thelonious Monk’s Nutty and If I Love Again by Ben Oakland and Jack P. Murray follows. Elizabeth and Lee duet on some scat and Schmidt gets in some fine solo bass work with Garnett adding his drum solo moments. The Nutty intro and outro are treated in an interesting bossa nova style.
For Tomorrow is from the great McCoy Tyner with lyrics written for the piece by Elizabeth. Lee’s work is gorgeous and Elizabeth’s vocals are warm and hopeful and realistic. The flugelhorn by Jensen is such a great addition. This is a fantastic track.
Ballad of the Snow Leopard and the Tanqueray Cowboy by David R. Rodriquez is an incredible piece and incredibly performed by Elizabeth with voice and solo piano only. It clearly reflects her time well-spent in Texas. The song was made famous by Lyle Lovett and Elizabeth has given a delicate ballad of tenderness and longing. Amazing.
Tristeza de Amar by Meredith D’ambrosio was brilliantly done by Sergio Mendes on his 1966 album The Great Arrival. Elizabeth takes on the samba and gives us a terrific rendition of the great piece. Again, accompanied by Jensen’s flugelhorn and the piano, bass and drums. Elizabeth gets to show off her range and versatility with this one, especially. She makes you a believer.
She takes on a blues guitar as she works Bessie Smith’s Good Old Wagon. Okay, now she proves that she isn’t afraid to take on any genre. She even gets the growly scat down and makes you smile all the while. Lee and the rhythm section work the blues well.
I Get Along Without You Very Well is the Hoagy Carmichael standard. Elizabeth again accompanies herself on solo piano. The piece is remarkable in itself with a melody based on the Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor by Frédéric Chopin and lyrics from the poem Except Sometimes by Jane Brown Thompson. Elizabeth turns in a wonderful treatment of the great piece.
The title track, Love’s in Need of Love Today, is the wonderfully uplifting song from Stevie Wonder. It first appeared on his 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. The song is perhaps even truer now than it was then. But Elizabeth has done a magnificent job of choosing songs that are timeless in their status and, even more, in their message.
Elizabeth wrote Cheesy about a woman wondering if it’s cheesy to be so choosy about a man. And this should make Lee feel especially proud because she chose him. Again, it is Elizabeth on solo blues piano and it works so well. Sadly, the song is only two minutes, 46 seconds and is the shortest track on the album. I wanted more!
Elizabeth closes out the fantastic album with a medley of two of the great anthems of the 1960s. She turns the Jazz loose on For What It’s Worth by Stephen Stills for The Buffalo Springfield and Joe Zawinul’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy that he wrote for Cannonball Adderley. The Tomboulians and Roseanna Vitro arranged these pieces into a coherent and complementary whole. Elizabeth is on guitar once more and the whole group, including Ingrid Jensen on horn, bring the album to a magnificent conclusion, once again highlighting the theme and title of the album.
It is Elizabeth Tomboullian’s debut album but it has the feel of someone who has been doing this for a long, long time. And she does it so very well.