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Barbara Morrison: I Love You, Yes I Do

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In terms of artistic rapport, Barbara Morrison and Houston Person are about as close to Billie and Prez as you’ll likely get today. They first united on disc in 2005, capturing a live date at the Dakota in Minneapolis. Eight years later, now label-mates at HighNote/Savant, they reunited for the resplendent A Sunday Kind of Love. This third outing, produced by Person and mixing standards familiar and unexpected-when was the last time anyone sang “Canadian Sunset”?-firmly cements their remarkable empathy.

At 61, her two-and-a-half-octave range potently pitted, Morrison has entered that rarified circle of vocalists-think Shirley Horn, Maxine Sullivan and Andy Bey-whose twilight years prove not just majestic but definitive. She can shape a “Save Your Love for Me” as soft and pure as freshly fallen snow, bask in the satisfied afterglow of “I Had a Talk With My Man Last Night” and craft a hauntingly gorgeous “And I Love Him.” Yet there’s still plenty of pluck and fizz, as sassily demonstrated across a slithery “Black Eyed Blues” and a blistering “Blow Top Blues.”

Person, 18 years his recording partner’s senior, has of late settled into an elegant groove that ideally befits Morrison. Respectful but never obsequious, he knows precisely how to enhance the luster when her lights are dimmed, and how to charge her batteries when the mood turns rambunctious.

Originally Published