Forget what you may hear otherwise, Maggie Herron's In the Wings is Tin Pan Alley melded with nightclub jazz and Broadway—the serious side of the Alley, the Parisian jazz life, and Broadway with a musically literate bite, not the glitz and tinsel glamor too damn prevalent nowadays. Pianist and singer Herron has been hooked up with saxist Paul Lindbergh for four years, and the gent has woven himself tightly into his partner's musk and leashed free-spiritedness, and is probably not unused to feasting with a panther or two, a little Gato here, a little Dewey there, and plenty of trad foundations. The two do much to energize one another.
Take Herron's cover of Mitchell's Woodstock and you'll see a centrifugal blend of all the foregoing as well as a great close-out duet between Lindbergh and trumpeter Eldred Ahlo. If I call Herron's compositions 'muscular', it's only because she manages to anchor them so solidly in tradition while dancing atop everything, especially when letting go in melismatic larksong soaring above the melodies. Rain-muffled echoes of Piaf step in any number of times, not least because Herron likes to encant in le langue francaise every so often but also because there's a strong essence of Parisian cobblestone in her method, not to mention that side hint of grit lurking just at the perimeter—not always, not frequently, but there when needed in Herron's timbre. More than once, I was struck by the fact that this was what I wanted out of Chi Coltrane but never got. I was likewise struck by images of Deitrich and others in that middle-range of hers.
Singing, however, is far from Maggie's only card in the deck. A keyboardist since before fourth grade, she knows her way around the ebonies and ivories, showing this well over and over, playing above, amidst, and just below the rest of the ensemble as occasion and arrangement dictate. Numerous jam sections crop up—in the jazz tongue: improvs—and what at first may seem to be a collection of chart hopefuls is actually a melding of two worlds, just enough mellow rock in the lighter jazz mode to make both comfortable while meaty.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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