Rosebud Music

Does the sound of romance change with the times? We tend to believe the feel of romance is timeless, but what about the music that inspires romance?

Is Frank Sinatra too sappy now? What about Johnny Mathis? Or Lionel Richie? Or Kenny Rogers? Or maybe Michael McDonald backed by the Doobie Brothers?

From today's jazz world of music for grown-ups comes the conviction that today's romance – made more complicated by the speed of all those digital devices and a moral code that seems to keep changing every evening – does indeed call for more complex chords, more sustained melodies and rhythms that only suggest, never demand.

Vocalist Peter Eldridge and pianist Kenny Werner, with friends and a string section from the Berklee School of Music, have assembled what they consider an album worthy of their bucket list.

Unabashedly lush, paced for lingering moments so the passion has room to build, their collection of nine original pieces – plus three reminiscent of earlier decades when everyone believed true love would last forever – combine to make a convincing statement.

Despite these turbulent times and so much evidence to the contrary, Eldridge and Werner are on to something. Using the “West Side Story” song “Somewhere,” along with “A Time To Love” and “You Don't Know Me” as their historical references, they create music that has currency.

There is a sweeping cinematic quality at work here, stirring and somehow urgent, hopeful in an kind of way, needing a twitter-quick response. But Eldridge's ruminating vocals also have a definite Mel Tore quality that links to the 1950s, when marriages over time still grew into loving little families.

The blend is so seductive, encouraged by Werner's enticing piano and arrangements. You listen for awhile, at first with a smile of superiority that slowly softens into possibility, and then you're thinking, “Well, maybe I could give love another try. Where did I put that martini shaker?”

There isn't a fast song among all 11 tracks here. Get one of those long-burning candles, settle back into the living room lounger, and give your healing heart another chance to re-join the romantics.

"We've Only Just Begun" 
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Singer/composer Ashley Pezzotti has arrived with her debut album, “We've Only Just Begun,” to shine a penetrating light into the future of straight-ahead jazz.

Eschewing all the weird honks and atonal squawks of other young musicians trying to attract everyone's attention, this 23-year-old scat stylist fresh from the University of Miami brings a deft combination of melody, harmony and smooth-swinging rhythms to six original songs about love's agony and ecstasy that sound as current as tomorrow's digital devices.

Also in the mix on this eponymous release are seven selections straight from the heart of that Great American Songbook. But the title track, “We've Only Just Begun,” isn't the one of which you are thinking.

It's an all-new piece written with collaborator and tenor sax player Alex Weitz, as are the other five new ones. On all the album's cuts, Pezzotti and Weitz are joined by Emmet Cohen, piano, Bob Bruya, bass, and Kyle Poole, drums.

Unlike in the Great American Songbook's graying world of rotary phones, forever love with shared cigarettes and breakfast at Tiffany's, Pezzotti's life comes with Uber drivers, social media demanding constant attention and ethnic restaurants serving dishes nobody can spell or pronounce.

Each of her songs tells a different story drawn from her own experiences, and those of people dear to her. Whether the melodies feel haunting or reckless, they arrive braced with the vigor of truth, telling compact stories that will give your heart a good squeeze.

Pezzotti also proves those classics have that timeless quality, too. Her “September in the Rain” comes with implied global warming, racing through wild fields of high-temp vocal gymnastics.

Just One of Those Things” takes scatting at a bebop pace to levels of invention and intricacy only horn players can create. This blazing sound is her signature, her flourish of originality. It only takes hearing a phrase or two to know this is a Pezzotti.

Then again, she also wrote a sad ballad to be sustained in the finest 1950s smoky cabaret tradition, “I Hope You Find Her,” only totally worthy of its nicotine-implied political incorrectness. After hearing this who wouldn't begrudge the singer a couple of adult beverages, as well.

So take a break from playing those 70-year-old LPs recorded in stereo on vinyl. Young musicians have picked up that jazz baton to make a run for it, straight into the future.

To get your own fresh copy, visit