Red Piano Records
This is the latest recorded collaboration between Blake, the celebrated pianist and educator who is the founder and long-time chairperson of the Third Stream Department (currently called Contemporary Improvisation Department) at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, and Correa, the Mumbai born avant-garde vocalist who is on the faculty of The Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program at Columbia University. Consisting mostly of duets on material ranging from standards to Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," there are also three improvised piano solos and one solo vocal.
This is not one's usual piano-vocal duet although it starts with "Don't Explain," with Blake's spare, dissonant chords providing a foundation for Correa's haunting mix of half-spoken, half-sung vocal with Blake's own solo having an evocative quality. Correa's vocal on "Out of This World" is arresting as Blake's chords and short single note runs are more a response than a simple accompaniment. Correa sounds almost like a Cantor at the beginning of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," followed by Blake's spare statement of the theme and then she explores Margo Gunyan's lyrics with horn-like phrasing and a vocal having the passion of a raucous Sidney Bechet soprano sax. After this, the first of three interpretations of George Russell's "Stratusphunk" with unusual voicings and use of silence is a relief.
The bouncy "Bebopper" is comparatively mainstream with hints of the "I Love Lucy" theme and "Lullaby of Birdland" in Blake's accompaniment and solo. The brief "Ah, El Novio No Quiere Dinero," stands out with the minimal see-saw accompaniment and a wordless vocal that evokes the Mideast. A haunting rendition of Ivan Lins "Love Dance" is the longest performance here, while "Wende," composed in part by Blake, is a striking unaccompanied vocal. This album closes with "No More," which again displays both Correa's vocal and expressive range as she opens in a defiant manner before singing more traditionally. It is set against an intriguing accompaniment. One may wish to preview a few selections, as some may not be enamored by Correa's singing. Others, including this writer, will find the performances here compelling.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a performance of the two from an earlier recording.