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She beguiles me. She fascinates me. Her knack for hovering right outside a lyric, desire pressed to the emotion(s) within (a scenario she evinces literally for "Goodbye, Little Yellow Bird") reminds me of no one else I know and gets under the skin of my ears uniquely. Her name is Christine Correa. She's originally from India, and the Web, perhaps fittingly, doesn't contain much to explain her. Pianist Ran Blake's built a 50-year reputation on cinematic piano atmospheres; his liner notes name-check The Spiral Staircase from 1946, and "The Bad And The Beautiful" comes right out of the 1952 Kirk Douglas/Lana Turner picture of the same name. So his textures, rich in their simplicity, seem grounded in a tradition. But his singing partner weaves her own tradition.

Correa also performs with the Frank Carlberg Quintet, translating modern poetry into ensemble realms, so not surprisingly she approaches each song with an all-encompassing sense of each story and emotional map. "Deep Song," on loan from the Billie Holiday canon, changes gears five times. "This Will All Seem Funny," from country singer Steve Mardon, holds out hope for better times, but Blake's eerie sustains and heavy-drop block chords express skepticism. I never understand how Correa does it, but she wields such distinctive control to hold herself aloof, yet wanting. Blake's manifestly dark pianism grounds her but also undercuts, counter-comments, virtually chuckles at the idea of escaping shadows at all. That combination confounds a little, hurts a little more, and ultimately mesmerizes.

  • Album: Out of the Shadows (2010)
  • Artists: Ran Blake/Christine Correa
  • Label: Red Piano Records
  • Songs: (1) Out of the Shadows (2) The Thrill Is Gone (3) Deep Song (4) The Band Played On/Goodbye, Little Yellow Bird (5) Fine and Dandy (6) Una Matica De Ruda (7) Goodbye (8) When Malindy Sings (9) Mendacity (10) Social Call (11) Hi Lili Hi Lo (12) The Bad and the Beautiful (13) This Will All Seem Funny (14) Out of the Shadows (reprise)
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