Dream Dancing (Anzic)

Melissa Stylianou

Released June 17, 2022

DownBeat Five-Star Review






Dream Dancing documents the trio’s effortless rapport as they explore well-loved standards and a moving Bertoncini original, “For Chet” (an homage to the guitarist’s one-time employer, Chet Baker).
It was Sturm who facilitated the first meeting of Stylianou and Bertoncini, in roughly 2008. “When I first met Gene we played ‘My One and Only Love,’ it was the very next thing after ‘hello,’” the singer recalls. “That moment changed my life. I didn’t yet know about Gene accompanying my vocal heroes like Nancy Wilson, or recording with Wayne Shorter, or playing with Benny Goodman. I just knew I was in the middle of something special. I knew that day I had found a generous master to learn from, a kindred spirit in melody, someone I now call family.”
“He is so at home with these tunes,” says Sturm. “Gene trained as an architect in college, so he really is an architect of these arrangements — and the complete freedom that happens in the moment, allowing us to come together in this new way every single time. It’s a freedom that’s only possible after Gene has done all this homework and poured his heart into it.”
“Every time we play it’s different,” Stylianou remarks. “Ike and Gene have this incredible bond and we all have a very playful way of doing music. We lean into that. The album title Dream Dancing feels right because we find ourselves listening and being spontaneous to such a degree that we end up taking turns ‘leading and following’ in the dance.” 

Track Listing:

1. Sweet and Lovely 03:57

2. If You Never Come to Me 04:50

3. My Ideal 05:16

4. It Could Happen to You 03:20

5. For Chet 04:29

6. Perdido 03:30

7. Corcovado 04:58

8. Time’s A-Wastin’ 05:24

9. My One and Only Love 05:45

10. It Might As Well Be Spring 05:41


Melissa Stylianou: vocals

Gene Bertoncini: guitar

Ike Sturm: bass

Recorded August 10 & 11, 2018, at Ambient Recording Company by Mark Conese Assisted by Andy Casella
Mixed by Brian Montgomery, February 2019
Mastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound, November 21, 2019 Design by Jamie Breiwick, B Side Graphics
Live Photos by Leslie dela Vega
Produced by Melissa Stylianou & Ike Sturm


For her latest outing, Melissa Stylianou leaned into the Great American Songbook for a collection of brilliant reinventions. She’s accompanied by Gene Bertoncini on acoustic guitar and stand-up bass player Ike Sturm, but they play together like a band, not a singer with backing musicians. Although this is their first formal collaboration, they met up 10 years ago. Sturm introduced Stylianou to Bertoncini, a man he considers a mentor. The first time they played together, something clicked. Since then, they’ve all collaborated on various projects, but this recording is their first as a trio. Stylianou shows off her remarkable vocal and emotional chops here, trading equal time with Strum and Bertoncini. They show off their chemistry on “For Chet,” the album’s one original, a tribute to Bertoncini’s former boss, Chet Baker. He opens the tune strumming a few bossa nova-like chords. Stylianou adds her scatted improvisations to the mix, harmonizing with Bertoncini’s melody. Strum slips in, following Bertoncini’s lead, then Stylianou rejoins them to trade solos. She opens “Perdido” scatting along with Bertoncini and Sturm, stepping back to let them trade solos that playfully dance around the rhythm and melody. Stylianou sings “Corcovado” in Portuguese and English, with a yarning tone echoing Astrud Gilberto’s original, then lays out to let the rhythm section experiment with multiple variations of tempo. They all trade solo efforts on “It Might As Well Be Spring,” with Bertoncini’s guitar, Stylianou’s wistful vocal and Sturm’s bass interacting playfully to bring the set to a close.

j. poet (DownBeat)