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François Moutin & Kavita Shah Duo: Interplay (Dot Time)

Review of the debut union of French-born bassist François Moutin and American vocalist Kavita Shah

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Cover of François Moutin & Kavita Shah Duo album Interplay on Dot Time
Cover of François Moutin & Kavita Shah Duo album Interplay on Dot Time

Interplay: both the title track from this debut union of French-born bassist François Moutin and American vocalist Kavita Shah—a stunningly chameleonic take on the Bill Evans gem, shifting from sinister to ebullient to deeply satisfied—and an accurate, if understated, description of their stellar rapport. Bass and voice is a too-seldom explored duo combination, best practiced by Sheila Jordan, primarily with Harvie S. Moutin and Shah have clearly studied that masterful pair and are equally fearless in their interpretations. Such is their respect for Jordan that they invited her to join them on two tracks.

The opening “You Go to My Head,” given a tender, straight-ahead reading, belies the adventurousness to follow. “La Vie en Rose” is transformed into an exhilarating exercise in explorative soundplay. The same boldness defines an outré, wordless probe of Dafnis Prieto’s “Blah Blah” and the first of two Martial Solal compositions, a gloriously restive, freeform reimagining of “Coming Yesterday” featuring Solal (with whom Moutin worked in France) on piano. Solal also guests on a comparatively tame treatment of his “Aigue Marine,” with wistful lyrics added by Shah. Moutin and Shah co-wrote “Utopian Vision,” a gentle yet powerful yearn for escape from our mounting societal woes, and Shah shaped both words and music (and doubles on ukulele) for “The Provider’s Gone,” offering a poignant reflection on a family’s dispirited undoing. As for Jordan, she remains, at 89, as sharp as ever, intrepidly holding her own on “Falling in Love With Love” and Horace Silver’s “Peace.”

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