Mon and Josh are two of the most accomplished and creative forces in the Jazz world today. Individually, they are remarkable. Together, they are unstoppable.
The album opens with Albert Hague and Allan Sherman’s Did I Ever Really Live. Mon and Josh interpret the standard so beautifully and so personally. And they do that with every song on the album. Michel Legrand’s You Must Believe in Spring is a phenomenal piece from a masterful composer. Yet, Mon and Josh handle it with honor and reverence and they return to us one of those beautiful pieces that sometimes goes too long without notice.
They also have no reservations about taking on such standards as Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life or mashups like Straight No Chaser/ Billie’s Bounce from Thelonious Monk/Eddie Jefferson, Charlie Parker with lyrics from Mon David himself.
Then Josh Nelson takes on Bill Evans with the medley In Praise of Bill Evans: I Remember Bill/Very Early/Waltz for Debby. Mon sings of the beauty and impact of Evans’ music while Josh renders the Evans piano is such lush and warm, almost nostalgic, phrasing.
Then Mon puts his own signature to John Lennon’s Imagine. It is delivered with conviction and respect but Mon and Josh certainly make it their own. Mon adds a narrated passage that makes the message even more meaningful.
With other standards like If You Never Come to Me/Skylark (Jobim/Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer) and Blame It on My Youth (Levant/Heyman), the duo pours their hearts and souls into the music that shaped so much of our emotions. And emotion is what comes from hearing these two artists together.
They close the album with Pat Metheny’s Always and Forever. Mon David wrote the lyrics for their version. It is a splendid interpretation of the music of Metheny. It is a beautiful and emotional farewell.
The entire DNA album by Mon David and Josh Nelson is a personal and meaningful revisiting of these wonderful songs. They never subtract from the originals but rather add themselves to what has gone before.
This is a marvelous album.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl