The Small Hours
Blending June Christy with Julie London seems the vocal equivalent of adding shaved ice to cocoa. Yet Andrea Wolper, an increasingly popular presence on the New York City club circuit, makes the strange mixture delightfully palatable. Eight years after her eponymous debut CD, Wolper returns to the studio with longtime accompanists Ron Affif (guitar) and bassist Ken Filiano (now also her husband). The results wander all over the musical map.
Wolper intimates London's trademark torpor on straightahead readings of Van Morri-son's "Crazy Love" and the exquisitely poignant "Small Day Tomorrow" by Bob Dorough and Fran Landesman, and she conjures June Christy's chilled vivacity on a wonderful midtempo treatment of the four-decade-old New Christy Minstrels hit "Today" (a tune well worth extracting from its folk-rock mothballs). Wolper breaks new ground with Dietz and Schwartz's "You and the Night and the Music," which is reinvented as an impassioned tribal chant, and Bobby Timmons' rambunctious "Moanin'" is slowed to a snail's pace. Wolper has a sense of humor, too, as demonstrated on her own "Gray, Not Blue," a cheeky compendium of just about every imaginable blues cliche, and irony, cunningly hidden in the brave-faced folds of her "Not Sleeping in Your Arms."