The two of them began writing together and some of those originals appear on He & Me. The two of them also worked together on nine hits and standards from the Jazz and Pop worlds. Ada’s warm alto and Jamieson’s skillful piano combine to make the covers truly their own.
The originals include Sweet Nardis, Too Much Stuff, and Done with That. Too Much Stuff is a sometimes whimsical, now reflective bit of humor that is well worth the listen. Sweet Nardis is a beautifully written piece and the play between Ada and Jamieson is excellent.
Done with That is a resolution to wipe one’s hands clean of the noise and disjointedness of the world. Mostly, it is a determined to be done with the well-meaning advice of friends. It reminds us of the words of Vikram Seth, “God save us from people who mean well.”
Chick Corea’s You’re Everything does not let up on Chick’s lively, brilliant piano runs and Ada delivers wonderfully on the Neville Porter lyrics. Then she turns on the Blues with Bessie Smith’s Any Woman’s Blues, written by Lovie Austin in 1923. Jamieson’s cool piano is a treat. Chico Buarque’s 1967 composition Logo Eu is sung in the original Portuguese and she nails it. Jamieson delivers the piano lines (originally for guitar) to perfection.
Paul McCartney’s Blackbird is quite the surprise with Jamieson delivering the bird calls on the piano instead of the squeaky guitar strings. The tempo is cut in half and the melancholy missing from the original is well-done here. Blackbird was McCartney’s salute to the Black Civil Rights movement in America and while the Beatles’ version never quite posited the sadness of the struggle, Ada and Jamieson do so admirably.
Jimmy Van Heusen’s But Beautiful is a straight-ahead rendition of the lovely standard. Both Ada and Jamieson do sweet justice to the song. The semi-suite arrangement of Miles Davis’ All Blues and the Davis/Bill Evans Blue in Green (lyrics by Cassandra Wilson) is fantastic. The same can be said of the Thelonious Monk tune, Straight, No Chaser, offered as Get It Straight with Sally Swisher’s lyrics. All three tunes are so well done and do great honor to the originals.
The track that got me the most was the second track, Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia with lyrics with John Paparelli. Again, the tempo is slowed and the nocturnal piano of Jamieson lays an incredible foundation for that amazing voice of Ada’s. This was the one track that kept bringing me back.
There is nothing quite like two brilliant artists finding that they fit like hand-in-glove. Ada Bird Wolfe and Jamieson Trotter are just such artists. With these songs, covers and originals, they take possession of the music and the hearer. He & Me is one of the finest duets one could ever hope to hear. The writing, the arranging, and the performance artistry are exquisite.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl