The blending of talents featured on On the Street Where You Live, the new recording from jazz vocalist Donna Deussen and guitarist Paul Weitz’s trio, is deeply satisfying. It’s also very organic, with the album feeling like it came together over black coffee and the recording taking place between sure friends. In essence, that is the story.
“Several of the arrangements came while sitting around Paul’s kitchen table, just throwing out ideas and experimenting with different sounds and rhythms,” says Deussen. “We’d just sit there and record something on Paul’s little Zoom recorder, until something sounded right.”
“Right” is certainly one word to describe how well the musicians on this disc come together. Weitz’s trio balances out with drummer Gus Duffy and bassist Matt Van Benschoten, while saxophonist Wayne Wayne and clarinetist Geoff Nudell also lend their talents.
“California Dreamin’” is first up. This familiar tune is slipped into 3/4 time and benefits from a few interesting twists. Van Benschoten’s bass is warmly prominent in the mix, pushing the tune forward as Donna Deussen’s magnificent tone takes hold. And Wayne’s saxophone blisters through like a hot breeze on a hotter night, crisply delineating this rendition as pure jazz fire.
Other familiar cuts follow and there’s more uniqueness to be found, like on the glorious Joni Mitchell track “Both Sides Now.” Deussen, who’d taken on “River” for her debut recording, taps to the emotional core of the piece while kicking up the tempo a smidge and throwing in more layers. It’s a bold move, but it pays off.
The simmering “Do Wrong Shoes” is another highlight, with the robust textures of Donna Deussen’s voice really taking hold. She sensually stretches words and adds just the right thick punch where it counts. Once again, Van Benschoten’s bass is the guide through the tune, while Duffy’s kit settles in to a swaying gait. Weitz adds swanky accents and springs into action for a fluid, fluent solo. Other tracks, like the clarinet-introduced “The Very Thought of You” or the moving “If I Only Had a Brain,” help pull the group into focus.
On the Street Where You Live is a tremendous example of what happens when a unit connects and the music is found on the same page. There’s no sense of ego and no insufferable “performance.” Instead, Donna Deussen and Paul Weitz’s trio manage a remarkably pure and superbly fresh record. This is “kitchen table jazz” at its finest.
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