The album features the inimitable John Proulx (an excellent vocalist in his own right) on piano, Chuck Berghofer on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. In other words, you are expectant of a great album before you hear the first notes. And you will not be disappointed.
Her song list is wonderful, with tunes from Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer to Billie Holiday to Cole Porter to Michel Legrand and so many more. This is a collection of songs that always leave the listener satisfied.
Billie Holiday and Mal Waldron’s Left Alone is an early treat. Nica has all the emotion and talent to make a Billie Holiday song work, and work well. Written by Holiday, she never recorded it. Cheers to Nica and the fellas for giving us this magnificent song. Proulx is brilliant on the piano and is largely, if not entirely, responsible for putting this LA-based band together for the native New Yorker Nica. Berghofer and LaBarbera show over and over why Proulx brought them along. They were with him on his 2018 album Say It.
Michel Legrand’s The Summer Knows was also recorded by Proulx on Say It. Nica takes this wonderful song and makes it her own. Legrand is one of my favorite composers and I can be a bit critical about various renditions of his work. Nica nails it. So help me, I played it and replayed many times.
Nica;s voice is warm and charming she is absolutely intoxicating. Please, God, let this be the first of 50 albums to come. She has it all. Yes, the trio is magnificent and anyone is blessed to be recording with them. But they are equally fortunate to be recording with Nica Carrington. Listen to the artistry of the trio and their brilliant contributions to the album.
Johnny Mandel’s The Shadow of Your Smile is so sultry under Nica’s ministrations. This one is worth the price of admission, to be sure. I like LaBarbera’s subtle drums on this one and Berghofer is right in line with him. These guys are good.
Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary’s Here’s to Life wraps up the album. What a way to close such a beautiful album. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that we say what needs to be said when we have the chance. And so she does. Her last words are Here’s to Life/Here’s to Love/Here’s to you.
Nica Carrington’s Times Like These is a splendid album of grace and joy and love. Conceived during the pandemic, the album encourages us to recall the things that are important. Musicians and vocalist alike pour their hearts and talents out like a sacrificial oblation and out only response is gratitude.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl