Lovely Days is a "classical" piano-vocals recital. It is classical in the respect of that this spare pairing is time tested and well respected across musical genres. Bay-area vocalist Sherri Roberts downsizes from her previous three recordings to a duo setting with pianist Bliss Rodriguez. Robert's repertoire comes directly from the Great American Songbook, first half of the 20th Century, but not from the absolutely most dog-eared pages. All ballads, "What's New," "My funny Valentine" and "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" are not within earshot in this collection. That fact alone makes Lovely Days attractive.
Roberts possesses a sturdy contralto voice with little or no vibrato, a throwback to vocalists of the 1940s like Helen Merrill and Irene Kral. It is a voice that was made to sing "What'll I Do" and "Nice and Easy."
Rodriguez proves to be the most gracious and effective accompanist of recent memory. His chops are considerable, dense in the vernacular, which he never allows to overwhelm what he may be playing at any given moment. On the old parlor favorite, "Heart and Soul," he sets up a gentle walking stride that Roberts easily navigates, recasting the song as a mid-tempo ballad of note. Rodriguez plays a rolling solo that frames well Roberts' vocal intentions.
The closest thing to hard core standards are "Like a Lover" and "Moon River," both of which are played without irony intended or not. Roberts delivers sincere performances of these songs, ably supported and complemented by Rodriguez's light touch on the piano.
C. Michael Bailey
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