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Pamela York: The Way of Time

These days there are many talented young pianist-composers with resumés like Pamela York’s (Berklee; Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto; Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition finalist; etc.). Even York’s Nanaimo, British Columbia connection is not unprecedented: Both Diana Krall and Ingrid Jensen come from there.

But not too many new pianist-composers write songs as finely finished as York’s, and even fewer have the maturity to craft album statements as complete and balanced as The Way of Time. It contains six originals and six standards. Among the former are a Jobim tribute so gracefully authentic it could be a song Jobim forgot to write (“Counting the Stars”), with luminous details added by Mike Wheeler on nylon-string guitar; two new real blues; and “All Too Soon,” a poignant reflection (in a call-and-response with bassist Lynn Seaton) upon the growth of York’s three-year-old daughter.

The standards are all evergreens but offer novel perspectives. “Motherless Child” is hard and quick, not a lullaby. “April in Paris” is brooded over by Seaton’s bass. “Caravan” has an unfamiliar, droning, exciting left-hand bass line.

In an album of well-managed variety, the most striking contrast occurs when York’s polished, sophisticated piano playing makes way for the unguarded vulnerability of her singing voice on “East of the Sun” and “You’ve Changed.”

Originally Published