You and I
Singer, songwriter and arranger Mary Pearson has designed her debut CD as a collection of duets with pianists Fred Hersch, Lynne Arriale and David Lahm, bassist Harvie Swartz, guitarist John Hart and percussionist Steve Davis. These austere settings showcase the warmth and richness of Pearson's instrument, a lush, supple voice somewhat reminiscent of Anita Gravine and early Morgana King. Highlights include two voice-and-percussion tracks (a tranquil "Lazy Afternoon" and an eccentric deconstruction of "Thou Swell"), but the duo approach refreshes material as overworked as "My Funny Valentine" and "Over the Rainbow." Pearson's three original compositions lack distinction, and she sometimes seems more concerned with vocal production than communication. Nevertheless, You and I is an impressive, musically exacting first effort.