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Meredith D’Ambrosio: Love Is for the Birds

I’ve always considered Meredith d’Ambrosio an acquired taste. It took four or five albums for me to warm up to that smoky, vaguely discordant voice of hers. But once you fall, you fall hard, and I’ve long since been enchanted by the particular brand of voodoo that she does so well. Love Is for the Birds, d’Ambrosio’s 14th for the Sunnyside label, is a deftly shaded examination of love’s emphemerality. D’Ambrosio wrote both words and music for seven of the 13 tracks, including the stoically insouciant title tune and “Frishberg and Dorough,” a sprightly salute to two of her favorite peers. The six other selections are all instrumental compositions from the likes of Kenny Dorham, Clifford Brown, Harold Lang and Ralph Moore fitted with new d’Ambrosio lyrics. Dorham’s “Poetic Spring” is, for instance, transformed into “Rhyme of Spring,” a lilting variation on “Spring Is Here” worthy of Frank Loesser or Jimmy Van Heusen. Brown’s revered “Daahoud” becomes “Beloved” (which, as Doug Ramsey’s superb liner notes explain, is the English translation of the original, Arabic title), a bubbly love letter to the illustrious trumpeter. Among the entirely self-penned selections, “Valentine” is particularly cunning. Created by d’Ambrosio as a musical response to audiences’ endless requests for “My Funny Valentine,” it is a Daliesque kaleidoscope of emotions that is spookily sublime. As always, the multitalented d’Ambrosio is also responsible for the eminently apt watercolor that graces the album’s cover-a lonely country road caught, like fading love, between the warmth of summer and the chill of early autumn.

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