After repeated praises received by his debut album, Vintage Christmas, and follow-up EP, Vintage Christmas Wonderland, pianist and arranger David Ian explores a familiar world of jazz classics with the vintage feel that defines the sound of his recordings. His third studio album, Valentine’s Day, releases this January in time for the occasion. Ian’s feel remains intimate with a small jazz combo led by his delicate piano arrangements, which ASSOCIATED PRESS states is “seamlessly melding the some traditional compositions with the perfect hint of lounge-meets-jazz phrasing.” The selections on this album reflect David Ian’s own journey in discovering jazz, with many of the tracks among the first standards he came to love.
The addition of two *legendary vocalists are of particular interest in this new David Ian release. Ian’s arrangements of both the instrumental and guest vocal-led tracks carry a sense of dignity, straying not far from the melody. Upright bass, drums, and a vibrant piano head the album with an energetic instrumental take of Autumn Leaves and a brief trading of 4’s to introduce the players. *Kevin Max, flagships his first appearance on a David Ian recording with the well-loved My Funny Valentine. His distinct vocal nuances shine with a transparent performance to this already emotional song while the band alternates between ballad and cut time feel. Acacia’s familiar and chilling voice reaches deep inside a troubled soul in the song Solitude. The essence of the song is delivered unresolved. At the end of the collection, there is a moment of respect that stands alone. Gospel vocal legend, *Russ Taff, and Ian’s fragile piano expressions create a solemn moment in the bonus track Sweet By and By.