Review by Brad Walseth
It is sometimes startling to hear a great talent that for whatever reasons, seems to have labored in obscurity. I'm sure that in Debbie Poryes' case, her private students and students at the Berkeley Jazzschool can attest to her abilities, but for the rest of us, hearing a wonderful release like "A Song in Jazz" is a welcome introduction indeed.
Opening up with a great version of Richard Roger's "A Wonderful Guy," Poryes immediately brings out visions of Bill Evans' trio work. Poryes' playing is confident, yet playful, thoughtful, but full of life. Her in-tune backing musicians, Bill Douglas on bass and David Rokeach on drums, help with their strong and sensitive support and solos.
Two tunes by the under-appreciated Ray Noble follow, along with a version of "Sweet and Lovely" and Monk's "Pannonica." Poryes adds a deft original, "So It Seemed" and ends the album with a surprising cover of Jules Styne's "People" that transcends the original. Throughout, Poryes exhibits exceptional command and luminous creativity and originality in her approach to this material.
Perhaps worth buying alone for the delicious, feathery take on "The Very Thought of You," or the incredible 10:50-long "People" reconstruction, all of the cuts have copious strengths and I would highly recommend this release, especially to fans of piano trio jazz.
It may have taken the San Francisco-based Poryes a few years to record an album for U.S. release (there is apparently a Dutch one from several years ago), but it is certainly well worth the wait. Mature and engaging arrangements of somewhat unusual standard choices, combined with stellar playing lead to a highly satisfying release. One can hope we hear more from this pianist and her trio, as she certainly seems more than ready for the spotlight.