Songs From "The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God" is a setting of Rainer Maria Rilke poems about the poet's relationship with God, written early in his career. In his program notes, Mehldau writes,"The seven poems that I have selected hone in on the questioning, difficult nature of Rike's meditation, and the striving intensity of his experience, with its extremes of ecstasy and turmoil."
Songs From "The Blue Estuaries" draws its text from poems by the 20th-century American writer Louise Bogan, whose work Fleming introduced to Mehldau. "Even on its own, her poetry seems musical to me," Mehldau writes. "The poems are full of finely wrought ideas and emotions that may be multi-layered and full of contradictions, but the austere beauty of the meter and the word choice make the complexity poignant."
The concert is not Fleming's first collaboration with a jazz artist. Her CD Haunted Heart, recorded with pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Bill Frisell, was released earlier this month. In college, she sang with a jazz trio, and was offered the chance to sing in saxophonist Illinois Jacquet's group.