By Devon “Doc” Wendell
“Lessons Lyrical” is the best description for the new album of the same name by jazz vocalist Petra Van Nuis and Chicago jazz veteran guitarist Andy Brown. This stellar duets album is beautifully romantic, pure and ultimately masterful. Nuis’ sultry vocals accompanied by Brown’s soulful and precise guitar accompaniment are the perfect vehicle for such standards as Kurt Weil’s “Speak Low,” Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” and Arlen & Mercer’s “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home.”
The duo’s take of the Johnny Mandel classic “A Time For Love” is a true album highlight. Brown’s fingerpicking is simply fantastic and Nuis’ vocal delivery is sweet yet melancholy. Brown & Nuis’ rendition of The Gershwin Brothers’ “Who Cares” swings magically. “Try To Remember” is delicate, dynamic and ethereal. The soul throughout this recording is just relentless.
Listening to this recording, you truly feel as if you’re in a real jazz club where the musicians are undisturbed by commercial concerns. You can picture the rhythm section on a break as these two masters take over with their own take on many timeless standards. At times, Andy Brown’s guitar comping is reminiscent of truly great pianist. It’s evident that Brown knows the changes to these compositions intimately. Petra Van Nuis’ subtle vocal style serves the theme of each song perfectly.
If you’re looking for a gorgeously under produced jazz duet recording with two greats serving up their own twist on some of the most memorable classics and standards, “Petra Van Nuis & Andy Brown’s Lessons Lyrical” is an essential purchase.