REVIEW OF AMERICAN LULLABY
Jazz Improv Magazine
Vol. 4, No. 3, 2004
If you’ve wondered what happened to promising pianist Travis Shook since his brief time with Columbia Records yielded only one CD in 1993 before the label cut him loose, here’s a partial answer. He’s now playing very nice piano in the band of his wife, New York-based singer Veronica Nunn, on her self-produced debut recording. And a very fine CD it is. She sings with skill and confidence and swings mightily on a mix of jazz chestnuts, popular show tunes and originals.
The opener, with a fine supporting solo from Kebbi Williams on tenor sax, is a medley dedicated to Nunn’s niece. It combines a sweet and clever tune called “American Lullaby,” complete with an investments profession dad who works perhaps too hard, with Stephen Sondheim’s “Not While I’m Around.” The ensemble with full horn section shines on “Don’t Be Blue” by Michael Franks and John Guerin. The dandy “This Joy” features Nunn’s words to the Gerry Niewood instrumental. It features Shook on a piano and Nunn’s lyrical refrain, “champagne and lemonade was how I began my yesterday.” Vivid – and tasty. “I Loves You Porgy” is a lovely extended piano and voice duet on which both Nunn and Shook shine.
“Living Room” is a classic Abbey Lincoln-Max Roach gem in which a room in one’s home becomes a metaphor for giving each other ample space for a relationship to grow. There’s also a hefty trombone solo from Westray. “Green Finch & Linnet Bird,” like “Not While I’m Around,” is another of the singer’s favorites from Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Williams adds a fine, crisp solo to Nunn’s interpretation. Nunn’s trio-backed version of “The Meaning of the Blues” is the album’s highest point, filled with nuance and knowing understatement that celebrates the lyrics and intent of the tune by Bobby Troup and Leah Worth. The full band is aboard again for a fine interpretation of the more recent Anthony Newley-Leslie Bricusse standard “On A Wonderful Day Like Today” from The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd. Nunn closes things out in fine fashion with the rhythm section on another Broadway gem, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s,”It Might as Well be Spring.”
– Ken Francklin