Adia Ledbetter’s inventive note choices help send some common standards into the stratosphere, creating a vibe as unique as the Durham native’s glorious tone all over her sophomore record.
Take 2: Rendezvous With Yesterday is a grand combination of songs from the Great American Songbook and Ledbetter’s own compositions. It’s the follow-up recording to her debut, First Take, and carries on the trend of transforming great songs into creative visions.
While First Take featured Generations, a quartet that included the late pianist Yusuf Salim, Take 2 draws on the resources of a new group. Pianist Ed Paolantonio, drummer Orlandus Perry and bassist Freeman Ledbetter make up the unit, skillfully backing Adia with the right combination of reservation and bluster.
In the liner notes, Ledbetter notes that she wants the new recording to be a “window to her world.” It certainly is that and more, shining as a reflection both forward and back with nods to great moments in music long gone and to great moments to come.
Take 2 opens with a medley of “Closer,” Ledbetter’s original composition, and the classic “You and the Night and the Music.” The singer slides effortlessly into the swinging gait of the latter, moving sleekly from a bass-vocal duet over a habanera rhythm to a full-bodied scorcher. The song proves that Ledbetter and Co. can swing and swing big. Keep your ears lifted for a spot-on piano solo from Paolantonio.
Following up the first cut is hard, but Ledbetter’s confidence shines on standards like “Darn that Dream” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine.”
Ledbetter has the unique quality of not just owning the songs but owning the moments in them. This comes across especially well on “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” a rich bass-vocal duet. Ledbetter’s scat chorus melts into the succulent rhythm of Freeman Ledbetter’s playing, providing a devilishly cool rendition of the Jimmy McHugh melody.
The album’s most personal track is the title number. It starts as a spoken word monologue that rolls through some history. Ledbetter announces that Obama is president, the Steelers have won the Super Bowl and “I am an artist…I have a voice. Who knew?” Martin sweeps in on guitar and Ledbetter lays out her gratitude in brilliantly poetic fashion.
Take 2: Rendezvous With Yesterday is one of those records to play again and again. Ledbetter’s optimism and joy sink into the fibre of each track, turning standards into “healing remedies” and transforming her most personal moments into universal experiences.