Originally recorded in 1959 and re-released in 1992, this landmark CD features all new arrangements developed during in an intense three days of rehearsal before this live performance. Shearing was relatively new to the US and its audiences, but Lee became a fan the minute she heard him and was thrilled to make an album with him. A saloon-singer/composer/jazz artist, and always a professional, she was known for her attention to the smallest detail, not a trait that lends itself naturally to albums recorded "live," but with Shearing at the keyboard and his quintet in the background, Lee sounds relaxed, swingy, and light-hearted here.
Featuring songs from the Great American Songbook--by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Duke Ellington, and Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern--with some Afro-Cuban, blues, and the debut recording of her own romantic ballad, "There'll Be Another Spring," the CD offers variety, at the same time that it maintains its mellow approach and overall lightness.
Shearing is the consummate accompanist on the songs the two do together. Her voice is always out front, with his chords, runs, key changes, and playfulness on piano remaining in the background to enhance her voice and songs. The bluesy "I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City" and "Blue Prelude," a blues song given an upbeat treatment here, are among the most exciting and interesting on the CD. "There'll Be Another Spring," a beautiful, romantic ballad written by Lee, is recorded for the first time on this album, taking advantage of her restrained passion and dramatic, whispery voice.
Shearing, whose quintet was famous for his early adoption of Afro-Cuban rhythms and the fine blending of piano and vibes, solos with Armando Peraza's "Mambo in Miami," in which Peraza himself supplies the unusual percussion and syncopated beat. In his second solo, "Isn't It Romantic," he matches his arrangement with the lyrics, creating one of the most romantic songs on the album.
Two bonus tracks, including "Don't Ever Leave Me," a dramatic and passionate plea by Lee, and "Nobody's Heart," both recorded earlier and not part of the live performance, are added to this CD. Fine music by two fine musicians make this an album for romance-if one can ignore the fact that the intros to all the songs were added after the fact when the album was edited. n Mary Whipple