Meyers kicks off the album beautifully on Something to Live For. Kate presents a sultry wistfulness in her longing for what we all want. You can almost picture her looking out of an apartment window looking for her hoped-for future. Kate and Meyers create a great introduction to this sweet album in her arrangement of the great Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington piece. In fact, Kate arranged all but two of the songs on the album.
Just a Lucky So and So is the other track with Paul Meyers. They stay with Ellington and Kate and Meyers give a cool bluesy delivery of the piece
Confessin’ is the first appearance of the busy and brilliant Larry Koonse on guitar. It is a straightforward treatment of the piece made popular by Louis Armstrong. Fats Waller had recorded a version with different lyrics in 1929. Armstrong’s version appeared the very next year.
Kate starts off a capella and is soon joined by Koonse’s fine accompaniment. There is a rich but brief dialogue of exchanged delivery/pause between them before Kate slides into a scat. This was a splendid example of Kate’s natural affinity with the piece.
Kate and Koonse continue their duet on Two Grey Rooms. Peter Eldridge arranged this melancholic Joni Mitchell piece. Frankly, I like this version better than the original. Kate’s voice and her interpretation make the song believable and touching. Plus, Larry Koonse handles the guitar treatment to absolutely stunning effect. He gives a tremolo aspect towards the end that evokes imagery of wind on the windowpane (at least, in my mind) and the picture is near-perfect as painted by Kate and Koonse.
Fred Hersch leads off No More with a haunting piano introduction. It was a tune made popular by Billie Holiday who always had a way of bringing a tear to your eye. While Kate is more defiant, Hersch keeps up the Hitchcock-esque accompaniment that actually belies Kate’s bravado. This was a winner.
Hersch also joined Kate on If I Should Lose You. This is an oft-recorded song done by Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and even Frank Sinatra as well as instrumentalists from Charlie Parker to McCoy Tyner and Keith Jarrett. This was a last-minute addition to the recording session and Kate and Hersch did it in one take. Beautifully done.
Hersch was with Kate on a third track, Lazin’ Around with You, which is a Fred Hersch original. Hersch wrote the lyrics in addition to the music and Kate delivers them splendidly. This is no easy bit. Hersch has written a complex piece but Kate treats is wonderfully. As far a musicianship, this is the piece that sets Kate apart. Okay, I’ll confess. This was my favorite song on the album.
Endless Stars was also composed by Fred Hersch (lyrics by Norma Winstone) and has a samba feel to it and Romero Lumbambo plays it brilliantly. Of course, a Brazilian guitarist is exactly the right choice for this piece. He practically leaps from the speakers as Kate gives a lively but soulful delivery.
Lumbambo gives a gorgeous introduction to Minds of Their Own, written by fellow Brazilian Ivan Guimarães Lins. Lins accompanied Nancy Wilson on her recording of this on R.S.V.P. in 2004. Lumbambo and Kate are as marvelous as Wilson and Lins. Okay, maybe this was my favorite.
Pianist Taylor Eigsti joined Kate for Busy Being Blue by the album’s producer Peter Eldridge. What a beautiful composition and how well executed by Kate and Eigsti. Kate says that her performance of this song helped land her the teaching gig at Frost School of Music. Hearing her sing this could make anyone give her anything she wanted. This is a perfect triad of composition-vocalist-pianist. No, maybe this one is my favorite. Good Lord.
Eigsti also appears on James Taylor’s Secret of Life. He gives a hammering pulse intro to the song. Kate and Eigsti arranged the song together and it is sweet. Who knew James Taylor could write Jazz? There is a moment when Eigsti rests and Kate sings alone to beautiful effect. The arrangement is stellar and the performance is incredible. The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Suiting parting words for a wonderful album.
The Heart Already Knows is exciting and comforting, thought-provoking and heart-warming. Kate Reid and her duet partners swing, bop, and stroll their way through an album that satisfies the insatiable.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl