How appropriate that Meredith d’Ambrosio devote an entire album to the music of Arthur Schwartz, for neither has ever received anywhere near the appreciation they deserve. Just as Schwartz (who, for the record, never won an Oscar and received only two nominations, despite decades of masterful film work) should be exalted alongside Berlin, Porter, Rodgers and Kern, d’Ambrosio can stand toe-to-toe with pretty much any jazz singer of the past half-century. Perhaps, for d’Ambrosio, it’s the result of her perennially understated style. She has, very much akin to Mabel Mercer, always maintained a less-is-more approach, a hushed elegance that gently propels each song like a paper boat across a still pond. Indeed, to stretch the analogy, her treatments suggest origami—delicate yet complex and filled with masterfully imaginative touches.
Throughout this 14-track set, the quietude is even more pronounced. For the first time since her sophomore album, 1981’s Another Time, it is d’Ambrosio on her own, singing and playing. Though she has always dismissed her piano skills as merely serviceable, there are strong echoes of both Bill Evans and her one-time recording mate Fred Hersch. As for the playlist, d’Ambrosio paints a full, vivid portrait of Schwartz, blending sublime hits (“Dancing in the Dark,” “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan,” “You and the Night and the Music”) with such splendid rarities as “Once Upon a Long Ago,” “Why Go Anywhere at All?” and “High and Low.”