17 Wild Blue HeronsYou & I
Wild Blue Herons (Bill Sample; Darlene Cooper)
Independent WBH2021 (wildblueherons.com)

Wild Blue Herons perform as a duo here. Vancouver-based husband and wife and longtime musical partners Bill Sample (piano/keyboards) and Darlene Cooper (vocals) share their love of standard songs inspired by the great women of jazz, and of course, of each other in this fabulous release. Recording two original songs and ten covers in their home studio during the 2020/21 lockdown was an experience that, as the liner notes say, “led to a huge technology learning curve.” 

The disc begins with I Wish I’d Met You which opens with brief piano single notes, then vocal entry. Love the matching colours of the held piano and vocal notes, back and forth piano countermelody answering the vocal melody, and clear vocal articulation and pitch. The 1930s’ romantic classic I’ll Be Seeing You features heartbreaking yet positive-for-the-future smooth vocals above detached piano chords and single notes, and a mid-piece jazz-tinged piano solo. Cooper and Sample themselves composed the slow song Don’t Know How to Love You with Cooper’s loudish yet never over-the-top vocals above Sample’s florid piano stylings, building to an intense ending. The title track by Stevie Wonder grabs the listener’s concentration with its slower straightforward storytelling rendition, as voice and piano are like two soloists instead of lead and accompaniment.

Cooper and Sample’s close attentive listening and interactions result in a beautiful, sensitive jazz release recorded and produced to high standards. They make it all sound so easy!

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