Cabaret-jazz singer Shaynee Rainbolt and famed Musical Director Donn Tenner have created a surprise album for jazz purists that deserves a lot of attention for all the right reasons. Two for the Road is a stylish potpourri of chestnuts given an intelligent spin worthy of something out of the golden age of jazz. Rainbolt, who has been collecting accolades over the last decade, is a respected song stylist who is committed to truth in a lyric in a manner that can recall the level of some of the best—past and present. Her soft alto has a great sense of where to take a song. She manages to turn a whisper into a dramatic narrative, creating some of her most powerful moments simply by being quiet, and not shouting or wailing, not “emoting” and just being a good storyteller with all the personal confidences one would share with an intimate friend. These gentle and moody interpretations sometimes depend simply on a quiet moment for their power and, though Rainbolt hits every note, enunciates clearly, and matches the tone and volume of Trenner’s piano to her vocals for emphasis, she also brings a fresh meaning to the idea that one can be whisper-subtle in jazz interpretation. That alone, coupled with these exceptionally refined arrangements and solos by the genius of Trenner make for a perfectly-conceived album destined to make waves in all the right circles. At times, the quietest melodies fuse with great phrasing to create memorable moments that linger. This is particularly apparent on the likes of the Sonny Burke/ Lionel Hampton/Johnny Mercer “Midnight Sun.” With humble nuances and minimal drama, the cut is so intimate, it’s like sitting alone in the dark. The lesser-known “This Year’s Kisses” (Irving Berlin)
is given a livelier touch that is infectious. On the more familiar side, Paul McCartney’s yearning “Yesterday” joined with the Kern/Harbach oldie “Yesterdays” is not a new idea, but works on every level creating a pin-dropper moodiness. Trenner’s own “Memory of the Rain” (written with his wife, singer Helen Carr) fused with the 1976 Melissa Manchester/Carole Bayer Sager classic “Come In from the Rain” is a sweet moment that pulls at the heartstrings.
Each cut is turned into a classic that takes the listener on a journey to a forgotten place as it opens new windows. Too, each cut is carefully chosen and executed with the same finesse that made the likes of jazz ladies like a young Anita O’Day and Shirley Horn so special. With Trenner’s elite history of working with so many jazz giants in the business from the Big Band era to the likes of Nancy Wilson, Ann-Margret and Shirley MacLaine, etc., etc., and the huge influence of the greats of jazz flowing through Rainbolt’s veins, it all comes together fluently in a uniquely impressive CD that should be a part of any serious song lover’s collection. Two for the Road is a CD that takes you on a musical journey that is pretty perfect.
March 1, 2014