A new year is a good time for optimism and a fresh start, and this eclectic debut from singer/actor Ann Osmond and jazz pianist/composer Dennis Yerry is as crisp as winter. Though the 12 tracks on Optimistic Voices are not their own compositions, this recently formed jazz cabaret duo has claimed these well-loved tunes as such, producing tight arrangements, lively vocals, and a charming new sound that has been enthralling sell-out audiences all over the Hudson Valley. Jazz standards, Broadway, Great American Songbook—it's all here. The CD kicks off with Frank Sinatra's upbeat "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die," which introduces the spunky vocal harmonies of the pair, Yerry's spirited keys, and the tight rhythm section of bassist John Menegon and drummer Jeff Siegel. "West Coast Blues," popularized by jazz guitar legend Wes Montgomery, is cleverly combined with the Lane/Lerner Broadway hit "Come Back To Me."
Slowing down the pace, Ann's enchanting vocals lead off a unique version of Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)," and "Tea for Two" is warm and charming. The Chick Corea/Al Jarreau tune "Spain (I Can Recall)" starts off as a beautifully somber addition before bursting at the seams with enthusiastic animation. Of special note is "The Bird Suite," which features four tunes about our feathered friends, from Gershwin's sweet "Little Jazz Bird" to Charlie Parker's spirited "Yardbird Suite". This delightful twosome, joined by Menegon and Siegel, will play the Falcon in Marlboro on February 10. Osmondandyerry.com.