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Reviewers: Glyn Pursglove, Jonathan Woolf

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ANGELA VERBRUGGE

The Night We Couldn’t Say Goodnight

GUT STRING RECORDS GSR 041 [49:38]

 

 

Ray Gallon (piano): Cameron Brown (bass): Anthony Pinciotti (drums)

Recorded August 2017, NYC

I'm Running Late

The Night We Couldn't Say Good Night

Love Walked In

All Too

You're Almost Perfect

This Could Be the Start of Something Big

Interlude (A Night in Tunisia)

Cool Baby

Si Tu Pudieras Quererme (You and the Night and the Music)

Speak Softly, Love

Plus je t’embrasse

The Moon Was Yellow

How Did I Know This Was the End?

It’s not every day that Will Friedwald writes liner notes so he must like Angela Verbrugge, four of whose originals grace this 13-track album. With her companionable trio of Ray Gallon (piano), Cameron Brown (bass) and Anthony Pinciotti (drums) she laid down this album back in August 2017. I like to see this disc as a kind of narrative arc in which themes of love, longing, loss, and the question of time are ever-present companions. It’s no surprise, surely, that the disc opens with a head-spinning original called I’m Running Late and ends with her own How Did I Know This Was The End? An album with a bold, delineated - though often quizzically narrated - structure is a rare thing to find.

That introductory piece, with her vocal-instrumental solo tongue-twisting its way through the witty lyrics has a Blossom Dearie-like stance; not quite as coy, maybe, but under no illusions. With its lightly Latin feel The Night We Couldn't Say Good Night hopes that love will work out and Ray Gallon’s crisp pianism lends lyric support over the springy rhythm. The teasing vocal introduction to All Too Soon – the vocal artist’s equivalent of Erroll Garner’s legerdemain and wrong-footing introductions – shows the deft qualities Verbrugge possesses and the vocal-and-arco-bass intro to her tune You’re Almost Perfect (note the inevitable qualification in the title) unveils a recitative of unsettled love. The bittersweet lines ‘You may not be the right one/But you give me such a thrill’ might almost be the beating heart of this disc.

There’s a splendidly up-tempo Steve Allen piece called This Could Be the Start of Something Big (but again note the ‘could’) whilst on the ‘Sarah Vaughan’ version ofA Night in Tunisia Gallon turns in a downward Monkish run. You and the Night and the Music takes on a slinky cut via the Spanish lyrics whereas there’s sprightly, almost Stride-like Gallon accompaniment in places on the French-language Plus je t’embrasse. There are some very astute arrangements which allow instruments to sit out, or incrementally to join in, as well as a pleasing variety of material and a good balance between originals and standards. I especially enjoyed the laid-back and evocative The Moon Was Yellow.

If this album traces the flustered start of a relationship and finishes with the end of the affair it does so with a sure sense of emotional direction through the medium of well-selected and finely performed songs. Verbrugge is a literate and articulate song writer, as well as a fine singer, and someone to catch if she’s in your neck of the woods.

Jonathan Woolf

 


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