New Jazz: Franglais — ‘Pairings’

This album of jazz duets from Franglais successfully fulfills a very specific need. If you know someone who has become a bit more of a wine expert during the recent stay-at-home period, this might be a perfect gift to bring them if they decide to invite you over for dinner once again. Ben Wood and Eve Seltzer conceived of this album during the COVID lockdown of 2020. They chose tunes that reflected how they felt in isolation, and arranged them for a duo setting to capture the intimacy of the hours they spent on the couch playing music together in their Brooklyn apartment. The title, “Pairings,” is a nod to Ben Wood’s work as a sommelier; in fact, the CD includes drink suggestions for each song.

There’s an emphasis on intimacy throughout the 11 tracks. Singer Eve Seltzer and rhythm guitarist Ben Wood, a married couple, embody the art of musical conversation. Often they are in perfect agreement, but occasionally they play at driving the direction in different directions. The result are performances that stretch whatever preconceived ideas of what limitations might be part of duets. They are almost like a musical taffy-pulling machine, going in unexpected directions while always coming together as a unified event. It’s a delicious listening experience.

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