Guitarist Vinnie Zummo remains best known for his work with Joe Jackson in the 1980s, although his impressive CV covers a plethora of name acts, including Shawn Colvin, Paul Carrack and Roger Daltrey. For this album he shares title billing with his wife (and regular guest vocalist at his live shows), Janice. This first joint foray into the world of jazz consists of re-workings of American songbook standards with three Zummo originals tossed in for good measure.
And an interesting musical pairing they are too. Janice’s warm vocals combine with Vinnie’s shimmering harmonica work on sparse and moving renditions of ‘A House is not a Home’ and ‘Someone to watch over me’. Her languid approach enriches their loping take on ‘The Way you look Tonight’, whilst ‘It might as well be Spring’ bristles with a combination of Janice’s sultry vocals and Vinnie’s smooth-toned guitar playing. Elsewhere, the cheesy cowboy classic ‘Home on the Range’ is rendered listenable again through the neat juxtaposition of an echo-y guitar with a swinging jazz rhythm section.
However, for bass players, the real star of this album is the marvellous jazz stalwart Cameron Brown. As one would expect from a former member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, his double bass is a delight throughout. His playing is tasteful, with great tone and a fluid approach. He plays a fabulous solo on ‘Candy’, whilst elsewhere he displays his high-end walking skills and great rhythmic nous. With Ray Marchica’s airy drums creating space for him to work in, the pair make a formidable partnership.
The album works best when they stay within a pure jazz format. The Zummo-penned, radio-friendly ‘It’s Gonna Take Time’ feels like it has been crow-barred in from a different project altogether – especially when compared with the magical Pat Martino vibe of the album’s other original tune, ‘Sophistry’. That aside, this is a warm and engaging record which has an ameliorative charm that not only reminds us what a marvellous guitarist Vinnie is, but also shows that Janice is a pretty fine singer too.