One of the most astonishing albums of the year is Quiet Is the Star, by vocalist Georgia Mancio and pianist Alan Broadbent. Released on Friday, the album is remarkable on several levels. For one, all of the songs are originals, with heartfelt words by Georgia poured over deeply personal melodies by Alan. For another, the collaboration between these two artists is a natural fit and divinely intimate. And finally, their execution is superb—Georgia's beckoning jazz vocals supported by Alan's caring and dimensional accompaniment. [Photo above of Georgia Mancio and Alan Broadbent]
Recorded in 2019 and 2020, Quiet is the Star is the followup to the couple's impressive 2017 duo album, Songbook. Their new album is even more touching, if that's possible. What I love most is how quiet and penetrating the album is. It's just the two of them, after all. But Georgia's voice lingers warmly to fill space while Alan fills gaps with rich chord voicings and harmony. A lot of piano to play so elegantly.
Admiring Alan's piano as long as I have, it's hard not to weigh Quiet Is the Star against his 1974 duo collaboration with Irene Kral on Where Is Love? and Gentle Rain in 1977. Or even Bill Evans and Tony Bennett's two duo albums in the 1970s. For me, this new coupling is the best of the bunch. While I've long loved Alan's albums with Kral, her singing style was more regal and statuesque. And Tony and Evans seemed more like sparring partners on their albums than two sensitive souls finding each other. One is leading and the other is supporting. No knocks here. I'm just in awe of the tight, open partnership between Georgia and Alan.
Quiet is the Star (and Songbook) is warm and deeply confessional, like holding hands or a close conversation by candlelight. There is no space between Georgia and Alan, artistically. They are on the exact same wavelength. There's also something quaint about their work together, like the pace of a horse and carriage or cooking from scratch. Their passion for their own music and respect for each other is evident in each song.
What's more, Georgia and Alan push themselves, fully respectful of how exceptional the other is. Their work together isn't competitive or combative but graceful and sweeping, the music equivalent of watching two ballet dancers. It's pure and honest music.
The album's songs are I Can See You Passing By, When You’re Gone From Me, Let Me Whisper to Your Heart, Tell the River, All My Life, If I Think Of You, Night After Night, If My Heart Should Love Again and Quiet Is the Star. All will become standards. In fact, if you're a musician or a singer and love the music, Georgia and Alan have published a songbook with all of their lyrics and music to the songs from this album and their last.
Singers take notice. These will be covered again and again by gifted vocalists. Be first in line. Georgia and Alan truly are among today's most gifted jazz songwriters. This is an album that should be played in your home at least once a day. A Grammy winner if ever there was one.
I just wish the late Gene Lees were still around. I so wanted to call him yesterday in Ojai, Calif., and play tracks for him over the phone. He would have been over the moon. I miss Gene.
JazzWax clips: Here are two of my favorites. Here's I Can See You Passing By...
And here's If My Heart Should Love Again...
This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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