Vancouver Island-based singer Melinda Whitaker has seasoned, unabashedly jazz-based approach to singing, and she’s perfectly paired on her disc Lucky S0-And-So by Vancouver Island’s premier jazzman, Phil Dwyer.
The CD finds Dwyer handling multiple responsibilities, including producer, arranger, musical director, piano and saxophones. He basically did everything except the catering for the sessions.
Dwyer’s arrangements are rich and fully formed, with nice details, reharmonizations and the like. There are even some hidden little Easter eggs for jazz fans, such as the citation of Killer Joe at the end of the title track, or Two Bass Hit embedded in Just Friends.
It’s telling that disc’s saucy opener The Song Is You features a drum solo after Whittaker’s spirited delivery of the theme, plus a Dwyer piano solo on a grid that involves the slick insertion of some Giant Steps changes.
Dwyer has no shortage of moves in his arranging kit. My Foolish Heart is floating straight eighth tunes with fine horn backgrounds. Stevie Wonder’s Overjoyed works just fine as a jazz waltz. Jobim’s Felicidade rings with addition of Pat Coleman’s guitar. The title track and Just Friends are testaments to Whitaker’s natural, swinging feel.
Of course, Whitaker and Dwyer at the piano need no bells and whistles when they perform You’ve Changed as moving duet to close the CD.