Petra van Nuis & Dennis Luxion, Because We’re Night People (Petra Sings)
Singer van Nuis and pianist Luxion may not be household names outside of Chicago, but their taste and wide range of musicianship have them perennially in demand in the Windy City. In thirteen ballads dealing with after-hours life and culture, the pair’s intimate collaboration makes this a highlight among 2018 vocal albums. Luxion’s participation means that it is also an important recording for listeners who cherish fine piano playing. His keyboard touch and inventive harmonic transitions have Ms. van Nuis floating through a program that includes classics like “You And The Night And The Music,” old songs like Ruth Etting’s 1931 hit “Moonlight Saving Time” and newer classics including Henry Mancini’s “Dreamsville” and his lesser known “Shadows Of Paris.”
The two are distinctive in “Black Coffee,” which is delicious for Ms. van Nuis’ bluesy bending of the words “Around” and the song’s ending title phrase. She gives Meredith d’Ambrosio’s “The Piano Player (A Thousand And One Saloons)” just the right blend of sadness and wit. Throughout, she sustains long notes perfectly in tune, supported by Luxion’s flawless accompaniment. The audience at Chicago’s PianoForte piano store applauds with not so much as one whoop, holler or look-at-me histrionics of the kind that spoils so many live recordings. This will have a long stay on most listeners’ shelves.