Across a kaleidoscopic recording career that recently entered its third decade, vocalist Judi Silvano has worked with pianoless groups, all-female outfits, a vocal ensemble performing a cappella, and even crafted, with husband Joe Lovano, an album of music intended to enhance hypno-massage. Through it all, she has only once recorded with just piano. That was a dozen years ago, for the superlative Riding a Zephyr, showcasing Silvano alongside Mal Waldron.
For this sophomore duo set, which like the majority of her albums features solely original material, Silvano reunites with Mike Abene, her pianist from 2004’s Let Yourself Go. Abene opens the 11-track session with thunderstorm force, jagged and threatening, before settling into choppy waves to support Silvano’s angular “Dust.” It is the first of the album’s six wordless selections, each deftly mapped by Abene. Silvano’s longstanding mastery of that tricky art is shown to maximum advantage, extending from the metronomic drone of “F Minor” to the exultant “Kokopelli’s Dance” and joyous “Calypso.”
When Silvano opts to sing actual lyrics the results are just as exhilarating: the ghostly naturalism of “Our World (Bass Space)”; the swirling intoxication of “It’s So Amazing”; the list-song finesse of “Make It a Classic,” its wide-ranging references to artistic heroes placing Van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare shoulder-to-shoulder with Ellington and Monk.