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Flute & Violin combine in 'Gifts of Love'

Although this is their first recording as a duo, Bruce Wethey and Lisa LaCross both have extensive musical careers, primarily in the classical music world. Bruce performed as a violinist in the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic and many others although he also has gigged with Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Doc Severinsen, Ricky Martin, Michael Jackson and Julio Iglesias. Lisa has performed as a concert flutist in some of the world’s top classical venues from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to La Scala Opera House in Italy. They met while performing in the same orchestra and later discovered a mutual passion for smooth jazz.

The duo is joined on the album by an ensemble of piano, guitar, bass and drums played by some of the best musicians on the Miami scene who have backed everyone from Frank Sinatra to Julio Iglesias and Gloria Estefan. The album, which also features a real string section, was produced by Mike Lewis, who also produced KC & The Sunshine Band, and has arranged for many acts including Jimmy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Rod Stewart, The Bee Gees, and Crosby Stills & Nash.

As Bruce and Lisa were recording this album, they also fell in love and married, so the music (written by Bruce) not only chronicles their romantic love story, but provides the listener with universal feelings of passion and romance. The song titles tell the tale -- "The Way I Feel About You," "First Kiss," "You Make Me Smile," "The Look in Your Eyes" and "Wedding Song."

"Love is the greatest gift of all," states Lisa. "We want to remind people how important it is -- love for each other, for our children, for our families, and for God. At our concerts people say they see us romancing each other onstage. During our concerts we talk about our life’s joys and struggles, and the audiences seem to connect with our openness and vulnerability."

To capture in the studio the special feelings they have for one another (that are obvious when they perform live), Bruce & Lisa decided on an unconventional move. They recorded their parts for the album at the same time, standing across from one another with a single microphone dropped between them, so they could look into each other’s eyes and feed off the passion, intensity and energy.

"We are the first to admit we’re not pure jazz musicians," explains Bruce. "We are classical musicians who have crossed over into the world of pop-jazz. I wrote much of our music with definite melodies, much like a pop song, but have included improvisational sections to allow us some performing freedom. The melody of one song on the album, ‘Joy,’ was totally improvised in the studio, and we keep it improvisational in concert too."

The music on the album features them echoing or doubling the melody at times, while on other tunes they go separate ways for awhile ("just like all lovers do," Lisa says with a laugh). But the interplay between the two lead instruments sparkles. In addition, since neither the violin nor flute are the most standard jazz instruments, by putting them in the forefront their sound stretches the boundaries of smooth jazz. Most importantly, the music resonates with emotion, especially the feelings associated with romance and love.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bruce Wethey and Lisa LaCross
  • Subtitle: Bruce Wethey and Lisa LaCross
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