Monica Ramey & the Beegie Adair Trio
There was a brief period in the late 1950s and very early ’60s when Capitol sagely paired George Shearing with a succession of the label’s top vocalists, including Peggy Lee, Dakota Staton, Nancy Wilson and Nat King Cole. The results were uniformly wonderful, setting a standard for sophistication that has, until now, never quite been equaled. But in Monica Ramey and Beegie Adair, Shearing and company have finally met their match.
Ramey and Adair have united before. The pianist joined the then-neophyte singer for two tracks on her 2009 debut album, Make Someone Happy. But they provided merely a subtle hint of the rich banquet to come. Perhaps it’s the urbane playlist, peppered with the well-aged likes of “You Fascinate Me So,” “Will You Still Be Mine?,” “Lullaby of the Leaves” and “Whisper Not.” Or maybe it’s Ramey’s ability to blend the suavity of Bobby Short with the sangfroid of Lee Wiley. Or it could be Adair’s refined agility, reminiscent of the young Barbara Carroll. Actually, it’s the combination of all three that evokes a sense of those bespoke Shearing days. Most impressive, the overall feeling here is more respectful than retro, as if some tony East Side boîte had, like Brigadoon, magically re-emerged.
Along for the stylish ride are Adair’s triomates, bassist Roger Spencer and drummer Chris Brown, here and there augmented by George Tidwell on trumpet and flugelhorn and Denis Solee on saxophones and flute.