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Typhanie Monique & Neal Alger: In This Room

An estimable follow-up to 2005’s Intrinsic, this second pairing of Chicago-based singer Typhanie Monique and guitarist Neal Alger delivers, like its predecessor, both the expected and the unexpected. Expected, and delivered: solid soul-jazz vocals from Monique that suggest both Sarah Vaughan and Minnie Riperton, top-drawer acoustic and electric licks from the dazzlingly imaginative Alger, and achingly heartfelt readings of such wide-ranging ballads as Victor Young’s “Beautiful Love,” Sting’s “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” and Annie Lennox’s “Wonderful,” coaxed along at a soulful mid-tempo. Unexpected, but utterly engaging: an electrified, scat-lined “Caravan” that soars into outer space, a supple bossa treatment of “Never Can Say Goodbye” that rescues the Gloria Gaynor anthem from its disco trappings while recalling the tender original from the Jackson Five, and a winking “Black Coffee” that, for the first time in my experience, toys with the narrator’s over-caffeinated state.

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