Rick Matle and Sheila Landis: Fine & Mellow

How simple! How eloquent! How nice! Indeed, the warm combination of Sheila Landis’ supple voice and Rick Matle’s caressing guitar is a natural. Based in Detroit, the duo casts an inviting spell in which standards transcend to the status of haiku, where an evergreen like “Ain’t Misbehavin'” is transformed into a glossy yet telling encapsulation of life’s great verities. “Summertime,” “Corcovado” and “Willow Weep for Me” are similarity transmuted.

Though they jokingly refer to themselves as the Motor City’s answer to Tuck and Patti, it’s an apt comparison. The duets of Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass provide yet another touchstone. Along with standards, the duo’s sophisticated treatment of bluesy fare such as Billie Holiday’s “Fine & Mellow” is also notable. Throughout, one can’t help but be impressed by their easy rapport, intuitive phrasings and hip harmonies. And when Landis scats, well, the spirit of Ella lives!