The Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen classic Come Rain or Come Shine, is arranged by Cameron Wallace with the opening bars plucked pizzicato by the strings and piano and develops a novel percussive personality until Melissa settles it into the familiar pleasures of the lyric song. You can feel that this blend of old and new is a success when the piece ends: the whole room comes to rest in a prolonged silence, the musicians grin at each other, and the applause bursts out.
Phil Dwyers arrangement of Jerome Kerns The Song Is You, sounds a bit like a Poulenc sextet until you begin to hear the voice of Paul Desmond's sax coming through Phils horn. Phils arrangement of Somewhere, by Leonard Bernstein, contains a terminally beautiful guitar solo by Rob Piltch. Robs equally memorable solo on his own arrangement of Hank Williams Im So Lonesome I Could Cry attains a great depth of feeling in a duo passage where Roman Borys is plucking a bass line on his cello.
Melissa Stylianous pure-voiced, tasteful, renditions integrated into the ensemble as if she were the voice of another instrument. I thought of Ann Sophie Von Otters work with Elvis Costello. The mood of the evening as a whole was soulful and still, a blending of passion and peacefulness. The instrumental Hiccup Tango featuring Ben Bowman giving his violin the hiccups gave us some welcome smiles and fun. More of that next time.