Nick Phillips Music offers a beautiful album of ballads in this collection of eight tunes by the trumpeter of the same name -- a noted producer with Concord Music -- and pianist Cava Menzies -- whose day job is teaching middle and high school music at the Oakland School for the Arts.
For Menzies, teaching young singers has a significant impact as an instrumentalist. “I sang a lot when I was younger,” she says of the time in her mid-20s before she began concentrating on the piano. “What I coach in vocalists informs my playing, in terms of letting the emotions out, the lyrical element (of the music).
For his part, Phillips knew right away he needed to put aside some of his producing projects to work with Menzies: “When I played my first gig with Cava, I knew right there and then that I had to make my trumpet playing a bigger priority.”
Though the word “moody” is an apt description of the record, it’s by no means morose. Rather, the album covers a brought range of emotions and colors across the breadth of the repertoire, owing much to Chet Baker and, not surprisingly, the cooler side of Miles Davis. With Jeff Chambers on acoustic bass and Jaz Sawyer tastefully working the trap set, the pair offer takes on Kenny Barron’s “Phantoms” and Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks,” as well as covers of Elvis Costello (“Almost Blue”) and Kurt Weill (“Speak Low”).
Sample the record here.