The pairing of legendary pianist Dick Hyman and wondrous vocalist Heather Masse takes flight on Lock My Heart, a charming and easygoing record. The pair met on “A Prairie Home Companion” and was introduced by Garrison Keillor to perform the Duke Ellington piece “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good.” The seeds for this album, put together a year later, were planted at that moment.
Masse grew up in rural Maine and is a member of the folk super-group the Wailin’ Jennys. She’s performed with the likes of Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow and is a frequent guest on Keillor’s renowned program.
Hyman, 85-years-old when he recorded with Masse, has over 100 albums to his name. His career has walked paths through jazz, ragtime and everything in between. He served as the composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist for over ten Woody Allen films. Lock My Heart is just one of four projects scheduled for release during his 85th year.
It is apparent from the first notes of the Rodgers and Hart tune “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” that this duo knows how to dance. Hyman plays the opening notes with surprising simplicity and, after an inhalation, Masse approaches with care. The measured take lays the groundwork for solid chording and gentle accent lines.
Following that up is “Lullaby of Birdland,” a piece that lets the cork out of the bottle. Hyman impresses with a dazzling opening salvo, taking the bass clef for a walk while punching the lights out with his other hand. Through it all, he remains smart and fluid. Masse fits on top snugly, delicately enunciating and offering just the right dose of cheek.
There’s also the bluesy bluster of “Love is Here to Stay.” The Gershwin joint benefits from Hyman’s loose-fingered approach; he glides so gently over the keys that it ought to be a crime. Masse, meanwhile, approaches with heat and leaves in smoke.
A rollicking rendition of Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” leads into the first of two Masse originals, the pensive “If I Called You.” The other, “Morning Drinker,” is a personal favourite. The way Masse eases into the tune is splendid, as is the way Hyman’s ivories swathe the lyrics with easy sway.
A resourceful, intimate experience, Lock My Heart aptly deals the legend-meets-young-talent card and wins big. Masse reveals herself as a beautifully lyrical vocalist and a canny writer, while Hyman’s class and integrity goes without saying.