Time flies, so why shouldn't New York Voices revel in that passage on life's jet stream? Reminiscing In Tempo marks the celebrated vocal quartet's 30th anniversary in style, presenting a dozen performances delivered with imaginative flair. The arrangements and vocals, not surprisingly, are airtight, and the joy in the music is palpable.
Demonstrating mastery of an idiom too often ignored, the Voices put their magnetic pipes and impossibly accurate harmonies on display in myriad settings, moving artfully through Ivan Lins' buoyant and vibrant frames, Cole Porter's swinging setups, and The Beatles' timeless glances at life's past. A crack band is often right there with this foursome, enhancing explorations of time remembered. But sometimes Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan , Darmon Meader, and Kim Nazarian are alone together, sharing their deep experiences all by their collective lonesome. That variety, par for the course with New York Voices, makes for an easy sale here.
Opening with "Round, Round, Round (Blue Rondo à la Turk)," there's a display of gratitude not only to Dave Brubeck, but also to Al Jarreau, whose lyrics pop through the speakers. Then the Voices take us across time and space, visiting different styles and locales with their customary shine. There's a gleaming performance of Chick Corea's "Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly," an enchanting a cappella take on Cuban pianist Ignacio Cervantes' "Los Tres Golpes," an easygoing slice of Ellingtonia in the form of the title track, and a nod to Al Jolson by way of Ray Charles on an "Avalon" throwback.
While this album primarily focuses on classics and the occasional hidden gem, a pair of originals sneak into the mix and deserve a good look. Meader's "Moments In A Mirror," with Gabriel Hahn adding some notable vocal and body percussion, grooves in line with the album's theme; and "The Forecast Is Sunny," co-written by Kinhan and Eldridge, takes on wider ambitions in story and scope, appealing to the singer-songwriter streak that both composers share.
Reminiscing In Tempo can be seen as a strong distillation of what this vocal force is all about, yet there's really no way the group can boil itself down into a single record. If time has taught us anything, it's that New York Voices' gifts simply can't be contained.