CD Review: Expressions of Love

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November, 2005
Longtime local jazz singer Jan Wheaton has found a creative and playful foil in pianist Matan Rubinstein. Whether he's providing a rich gospel flavor to "Always on My Mind" or Bill Evans-style introspection on "That's All, " Rubinstein always strikes the right balance between being a supporting player and a co-conversationalist.

Wheaton, for her part, offers enough surprises to keep the 15-track disc from becoming a predictable parade of standard love songs. In her hands, "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" becomes a sassy confection that plays footsie with barrelhouse blues, while an inspired interpretation of Willie Nelson's languorous "Crazy" gets much of its power from well-placed glissandos that exploit the lower end of her range. Wheaton also offers an unexpected treatment of the familiar Latin rhythm of "One Note Samba" and shapes it into a breathless cascade of syllables that bear the influence of hard bop.

The staff at Audio for the Arts know just how to record acoustic instruments and the untreated human voice. Even Rubinstein's most lush keyboard work is free from the mid-range mud one still hears on high-profile sessions underwritten by prominent jazz labels. It must be gratifying for both of these musicians to know that there's a local facility they can rely on to show as much sympathy to their creations as they do to each other.

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