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Monika Herzig: Come With Me

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Pianist Monika Herzig’s second Owl Studios album is a supple affair of voicing and taste. The originals by this Indiana musician bespeak her catholic approach, particularly the jaunty “Italian Taxi Ride,” the brooding “Heavy Burden” and the sweeping title track memorializing a trip Herzig and her husband, guitarist Peter Kienle, made to their hometown in Germany.

Herzig also picks covers astutely, underlining the darkness within Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and making Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia” a spare, soulful salute to the state they share. She turns Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” into a blues; Tom Clark’s tenor saxophone provides an earthiness the original lacks. These covers are transformations, all of them accessible. (Also catch Clark on soprano sax on “The Pianists Say,” a very pretty, swinging Herzig original.)

Herzig’s arrangements, often quickened by the no-nonsense violin of Carolyn Dutton, are warm, her lines assured and purposeful. Kienle, who only plays on two tracks, picks his pointed spots on “Paradise on Ice,” one of Herzig’s more pictorial pieces. Bassist Frank Smith works fine with the drummer, be he Steve Davis or Kenny Phelps, and percussionist Joe Galvin and the mercurial Dutton spice “Ole,” the wildest original.

Packaged with a DVD, Come With Me attests to a rare combination of elbow grease and creativity. Many such DVDs are superfluous, but this one shows how Herzig lives and works. You may not like the sentimentality that pervades Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf’s title poem, but you’ll appreciate the industriousness and imagination of the woman who assembled this package.

Originally Published