CD Review | Time for Blue – By The Way

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Time for Blue is the debut album from the group “By The Way”. This trio is comprised of pianist and educator Frank Wunsch together with two of his ex-students, vocalist Emese Mühl and guitarist and composer Christina Zurhausen.

The album comprises ten tracks ranging from well known standards through to a selection of original compositions by Wunsch and Zurhausen respectively. This relatively uncommon trio format consisting of Piano, Guitar and Voice provides the musicians the room to explore the material, often in an unconventional manner as can be heard on “Btfw” and “All The Walls I Strike My Head Against Are Inside My Head”.

The album opens with a fairly conventional reading of the Fats Waller classic “Ain’t Misbehavin” before continuing with Warum die Eile” (Why the Rush in English). Couched as a straight ahead Bossa Nova, this track, written by guitarist Christina Zurhausen, highlights Mühl’s voice allowing her to float melody above the backing and gently playing with the timing providing a sense of drifting on a summer day.

The following piece is the title track “Time For Blue” and is a composition by pianist Frank Wunsch with lyrics written by Mühl. With this track, Mühl takes a poignant look at the process of grieving the loss of a loved one. Wunsch creates a perfect melancholic basis for this piece with his intricate harmonies allowing plenty of room for Emese to tell this story.

The album’s make up is rather interesting as it presents a wide range of styles from the straight ahead jazz standard through to the almost pop feel of “All The Walls I Strike My Head Against Are Inside My Head” and the somewhat modern classical of “Btfw”. Personally, this last track is one of the highlights of the album, and while it seems be a bit of a fish out of water stylistically this only adds to it’s impact. “Btfw” is an urban acronym for “by the fucking way” and Mühl’s vocal performance here is excellent pushing the point to ensure there’s no doubt that the protagonist is pissed off.

“Joana’s Waltz” is in my mind another highlight on the album. Written by Wunsch some 30 years ago as an instrumental composition the track has appeared on more than 10 CD releases. On this album the song receives it’s premiere as a vocal composition with lyrics written in 2010 by Antje Gerstmeyer. The lyrics describes the play of colors of a rainbow and Mühl’s vocal performance further reinforces this. The interaction between Wunsch and Mühl on this track is worth noting specifically the way Wunsch doubles the melody adding to the instrumental flavor.

I’m not sure this album will be everyone’s cup of tea, programmatically I found it a little disjointed however there’s no disputing the musicality contained within it. The album is available on CD and can be streamed on all of the usual platforms.

Line-up:
Frank Wunsch, piano | Christina Zurhausen, guitar | Emese Mühl voice

Track Listing:
1. Ain’t Misbehavin’ | 2. Warum Die Eile | 3. Time for Blue | 4. No Moon at All | 5. All the Walls I Strike My Head Against Are Inside My Head | 6. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning | 7. Joana’s Waltz | 8. Dorthin | 9. Btfw | 10. Numb

Release Date: 25 March 2020
Format: CD | Digital
Label: Mons Records

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Last modified: July 5, 2022