Between the contrabassist Harvie S and the pianist Yukimi the former may be the better-known of the two. However, on New York Memories the expressive and erudite contrabassist and the articulate and genteel pianist certainly come together as equals bestride an immense stretch of essential American musical literature. These bold, eloquent performances, recorded in immaculate audiophile-like sound stake their claim to be among the best duet [between piano and contrabass] recording you may have heard in an exceptionally long time.
Although the album is uniformly brilliant, a few of the pieces deserve special mention. The first of these is the exquisite composition by the contrabassist – New Year’s Song. This is a work that was recently heard [with vocals], sung with naked beauty by the great CeCe Gable [together with Harvie S and a slightly larger ensemble]. In its pared down version [as a duet], the storm-tossed fantasy of the melody sounds unspeakably gorgeous; the rhythm of its wispy lyricism unfolding as if conjuring, not something, but a real live person leaving sadness behind with great expectation. As the song progresses, melodic lines float benignly over flowering harmonic structures and nimble rhythms while – emotionally – hope springs eternal.
Tadd Dameron’s Hot House is another chart that stands out in the infectious glee of the playing of both bassist and pianist. Notes fly off the page as both the performers appear lost in their intricate virtuosity, never losing sight, of course, of the mature professionalism at hand. The elegant pianism of Yukimi is redolent of the racy time on New York streets, low-lit steamy clubs teeming with the effervescent charm of zoot-suited beboppers inhabiting a lifestyle full of intoxicating revelry spurred on by music that matched the mood of whole cities engaged in a tumbling lifestyle in eternal overdrive. From the top of the recording and right through the middle, where these tunes are featured, the music is uniformly brilliant.
However, the album’s apogee comes at the end of the recording when the ineffably brilliant Sheila Jordan joins the dup to bring an incredibly special version of Londonderry Aire aka Danny Boy to life. Sheila Jordan one of the greatest vocalists in Jazz, a poster girl for the Bebop Era from which Mr Dameron’s Hot House sprung. But when Miss Jordan opens her lips to sing her unique personality kicks in. This is reflected in her idiosyncratic method of rendering tonal pitch and in her phrasing that flies in the face of convention. She chops whole notes into sixteenth notes and turns eighth notes in to dallying half and whole notes. And, suddenly, as if by magic, the poetry [and/or narrative] of the song takes wing. And so, the ruminative and brooding qualities of the child in the song – far from being weighed down in sadness – lifts himself up and takes flight.
No one but Sheila Jordan could propel a song laden with sadness into the bright joyful stratosphere. Just as no one but the incomparable contrabassist Harvie S [who produced this album too], together with Yukimi, a pianist of winsome and passionate appeal could pull off an album with such rapturous appeal.
Tracks – 1: Time Remembered; 2: My Shining Hour; 3: Autumn in New York; 4: Next Year’s Song; 5: All the Things You Are; 6: Hot House; 7: Misty; 8: Can’t Go Home; 9: I Hear a Rhapsody; 10: Danny Boy
Musicians – Yukimi: piano; Harvie S: contrabass. Special Guest – Sheila Jordan: vocals 
Released – 2023
Label – RVS Records [RVS1003]
Runtime – 44:31