Mayte Alguacil (vcl), Michael Kanan (p)
Bar code: 8427328435918
I’m very proud to present this, Mayte Alguacil’s third album for Fresh Sound Records, after her two previous successes—“Day by Day” (2015) and “Trav’lin’ Light” (2017). Together, Mayte and Mike Kanan have brought us a thing of beauty this time, music that makes you feel. Both complement each other naturally, without unnecessary efforts, and everything flows with serenity through the caressing quality of Mayte’s enthralling voice. Her singing is mellow and full of love, her breathing peaceful, and she clearly understands the meaning behind the lyrics; and as for Mike, his relaxed swing and warm, tasteful touch at the piano, paired with a full command of the melody, give this album a certain poignancy that makes it shine.
There’s a great deal of emotional content in these performances, delivered with conviction and carried with grace. Through tenderness, Mayte and Mike make it all seem so simple, but don’t be fooled—their performances have depth and projection, and each song has enough entity and honesty so that listening to it becomes a very personal experience I’m sure you will enjoy.
"Spanish singer Mayte Alguacil is probably a new name to most of us, despite her two previous Fresh Sound sets, while American pianist Michael Kanan will be familiar for his work with Jimmy Scott and Jane Monheit, as well as for his sensitive accompaniment on altoist Sam Braysher’s fine 2017 Fresh Sound debut, Golden Earrings, and for his own duo sets with altoist Nathanael Stu. Alguacil and Kanan have previously recorded together for Fresh Sound in 2015 on Day By Day, and continue here with the same mixture of standards and popular songs as on that set.
Drummer Jordi Rossi gets this set spot on when he writes in the sleeve notes that “Mike and Mayte have no interest in over-dramatic expression, extravagance, ready-made emotion or artifice of any kind”. Neither are they interested in anything faster than a slow stroll, as none of the 13 tracks ever picks up its feet and attempts to dance. Every Time We Say Goodbye is so slow it almost grinds to a halt, We’ll Be Together Again is positively lethargic, while the album’s stand-out track – In The Wee Small Hours – is stripped down to bare vocals and single-note piano support.
But if the two don’t go for drama, they are interested in exploring the emotions of each song, Mayte inhabiting the lyrics as if she wrote them, Michael’s sensitive, withdrawn accompaniment – he only takes brief solos – providing the melodic backdrop with the minimum of harmonic variety. On Harold Arlen’s Ill Wind, Mayte channels the inner Billie Holiday, rough edges and all, but mostly she sticks to pure tone and precise diction. It’s all very languid, all very simple, and all the more effective for that."
—Simon Adams (May 5, 2020)