Ice on the Hudson: Songs by Renee Rosnes & David Hajdu
Vocal Jazz · 2018
Reuniting as a songwriting team for their first full album, author David Hajdu and jazz pianist Renee Rosnes explore a wide range of art songs about the complexities of contemporary adult life, with a group of elite musicians improvising nimbly around four vocalists. No mere “moon-June-spoon” lyricist, Hajdu (who’s been a critic at The New Republic and The Nation) has high literary aims, and Rosnes’ sympathetic melodies and harmonies ennoble his themes. A reinterpretation of Rosnes’ instrumental “The Quiet Earth” deepens Hajdu’s fable on tenacity, “Little Pearl,” into a jazz-noir songbook standard, while Rosnes brings equal conviction to the flippant humor of “I Like Pie,” which she spins into a brisk cabaret number. The studied drama of some vocals here may not appeal to Rosnes’ core jazz audience, but the musical-theater sensibility makes for performances of spirited character.