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Judy Carmichael & Harry Allen: Can You Love Once More?

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In the tradition of Nat King Cole and Diana Krall, Judy Carmichael began her recording career as strictly a pianist, subsequently incorporating her equally adroit abilities as a jazz singer. Three years ago, she released I Love Being Here With You, a momentous recording in several ways: her first all-vocal release; her first ceding of the piano bench (to one of the most empathetic accompanists around, Mike Renzi); and, though he’d served as a cornerstone of her working trio for several years prior, the first of her albums with saxophonist Harry Allen.

Now Carmichael and Allen have released this 12-track session built exclusively around his music and her lyrics. They’ve wisely re-engaged Renzi, here alongside drummer Alvin Atkinson and bassist Mike Karn. It’s a generally breezy affair, befitting Allen’s easy, mellow style and Carmichael’s warm congeniality. While his big sound is given plenty of space to stretch out, her clever wordplay is provided as much elbowroom. And, much like Lorraine Feather, Carmichael appreciates how to put topical spins on timeworn themes. Texting, sexting, Jimmy Choo, Daniel Craig and the very modern circumstance of realizing that a romantic partner is gay are woven into such winsome tunes as “Take Me Back to Machu Picchu,” “Make Me an Offer I Can’t Refuse” and “An Almost Perfect Man.” Oddest is “Pluto You’re for Me,” a valentine to the dwarf planet. Sweetest is the title track, a love letter to Allen’s rescue cat, who graces the album’s cover.

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