Jazz vocalist Rebecca Dumaine, the daughter of pianist Dave Miller, returns for another generous program of mostly standards, several done rather inventively on Someday, Someday. Yet, she both includes and strays from the Great American Songbook on this outing. Joining are bassist Chuck Bennett, drummer Bill Belasco, as the cast remains intact from 2019’s Chez Nous, which we covered on these pages. This is Bay Area’s Dumaine’s sixth CD. Her father, Miller, has led his own piano trio, with whom Dumaine often works, in the area since the 70s. This one is a little darker, and pandemic influenced in tone, compared to the predecessor. The repertoire is taken from a wider range of sources, many of the songs (even the vintage ones) relate to the pandemic, and DuMaine contributed two originals, Her themes are loss, longing, and ultimately hope.
The two pillars that we commented on last time obviously remain. Dumaine has perfect phrasing, tone and articulation while Miller’s deft touch evokes George Shearing. Dumaine clearly understands every lyric she sings, and if you listen carefully, you can hear her hanging on to or accentuating certain words as she sings. The first three songs are about love that have been lost. The begin with “Just Friends” which swings despite the melancholy lyrics. They uplift one of the best pop songs of the early ‘70s, “Alone Again (Naturally).” On the last album she sang in Portuguese and here, nodding to her mom who is a French teacher, she applies that language to the haunting “Samba de Mon Coeur Qui Bat,” with its odd chord changes, about a lost relationship. They get animated on the seldom played but eminently recognize Rodgers and Hammerstein “The Gentleman Is a Dope.”
The title track, an original, speaks directly to the pandemic, wondering when ‘normal’ life would resume. The Latin beat plays to Belasco who shines on drums and percussion. Her take on Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” reminds us just how a well crafted that song is. “Time to Get Unstuck (Happy Little New Song)” stays in that ‘70s groove. Miller sparkles in Count Basie mode on the swinging standout “As Long As I Live,” with DuMaine exhibiting perfect timing, whether singing or scatting, she rides atop the rhythm of the tune. “On a Clear Day,” transformed into a bossa nova, may have been ironically inspired by last summer’s wildfires. “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” features a nice duet between father and daughter as they engage in balladry before taking it to a swing tempo. Make it your pandemic theme song if you please.
The Julie London hit “Cry Me a River” is taken as a fast jazz waltz rather than its usual pace. Listen carefully and you’ll hear a quote from “Take Five” as well as Bennett’s excellent bass solo. The medley of “la Vie En Rose/Au Privave” may be a first, and if so, Miller seems so excited, as reflected in his hard swinging, bebop-like soloing. “Wrap Your Troubles in dreams” is pure George Shearing while the closer, Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” hits the right note of optimism, a day when social distancing is in the rearview mirror. DuMaine is so effervescent that she practically washes away the darkness of some of the other tunes in one fell swoop.
This album is a notch above its predecessor as it is slightly more inventive, has a few surprise song choices, and speaks to our current state. DuMaine says, “2020 has certainly been a dark year. I found myself gravitating more towards singing melancholy songs and I also started writing. We decided to do an album that deviated a little from our typical sunny upbeat and hopeful mood and looked into songs that were a little bit darker but still ultimately hopeful. It was a cathartic experience for us.” Nonetheless, the major takeaway is joyful, as we can’t wait to hear live music again.
- Jim Hynes