Bunny Mellon, America’s foremost arbiter of superior taste, lived by the motto “Nothing should be seen,” meaning that in order to achieve true aesthetic beauty, nothing must stand out. As a defining principle it perfectly describes octogenarian pianist Kirk Lightsey’s exquisite craftsmanship across each of these seven covers and one original. And Lightsey has found an ideally symbiotic partner in Italian vocalist Marilena Paradisi. On what is only her second album performed entirely in English, Paradisi demonstrates the same captivating ability to fully meld with the songs without dampening their distinct moods.
The duo opens with Mingus’ contemplative “Portrait,” sketching deeply personal tonal “pictures” based on lifelong experiences and observations. The gorgeously bittersweet “Some Other Time” connects with a wistful “Autumn Nocturne,” the darkly revelatory “Soul Eyes” and the staccato roil of Ron Carter’s “Little Waltz,” steadily rising in intensity as it progresses from sweet joy to bruised dejection. Exploring more fulfilling romantic sentiments, they add a rapturous “Like a Lover” and a beatific rendering of the Wayne Shorter/Dianne Reeves title track. Paradisi and Lightsey (alternating between piano and flute) close with the co-written “Fresh Air,” a gently flowing venture “into the light,” traveling not to a heavenly reward but toward more earthly and sensual pleasures.