193 of 197 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2000
You've heard people raving about Eva Cassidy, you've maybe heard some of her stuff, but which album to start with? This one. If you own an Eva album but not this one, what are you waiting for? This is her crowning glory, an album that starts with the swinging jazz of Berlin's Cheek to Cheek, wanders gently into more mellow territory with exceptional readings of Sting's Fields of Gold (until this album, I never realized what a great song this was) and Buffy St. Marie's Tall Trees in Georgia (a strong yet quavering vocal over a beautifully understated musical backing) and finishes off with the soulful Oh, Had I a Golden Thread (the only studio track on the album).
Her death was a great loss, as this album shows an artist entering true maturity. Though the other albums are good, they mostly pick over material that was left behind. There's not a bad performance or less-than-great song choice here. Her following is growing, though still not to the levels of other, less talented, female singers I could name. Buy this album. Spread the word.
90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2002
Live at Blues Alley is a cd which displays the gifts of the late singer Eva Cassidy. Eva possessed a voice which was capable of a wide range of emotions. She sang with a sweetness and purity which was suitable for a variety of styles. Her emotion filled voice was wonderfully adaptable and she could sing blues, jazz and folk with equal skill. Eva had a gentle wistful voice which was both pleasant to listen to and suitable for her chosen songs. Joel Siegel states in a biographical clip that Eva "viewed her talent as a gift and an obligation."
This cd consists of a variety of songs which Eva performed at Blues Alley a Washington DC club in which she frequently performed. The range of songs include the jazzy Cheek to Cheek, blues of Stormy Monday, folk Tall Trees of Georgia, modern pop of Fields of Gold. Each of these Eva performed with precision and emotion. Eva was capable of powerful and emotional vocals as can be heard in Stormy Monday and A Bridge Over Troubled Waters as well as sad and soulful in her version of Fields of Gold. Tall Trees of Georgia written by Buffie St. Marie was a favorite of Eva's and she sang it with a delicate, sweet voice which had a surprising strength.
If you have not discovered Eva Cassidy yet, take the time to listen to her and understand the great talent she possessed.
71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2000
the first time i ever heard eva cassidy was 3 years ago, on a local dc jazz station (which, sadly, has since gone off the air). it was the song "what a wonderful world," which i normally find cloying. but eva's clear, strong, beautiful vibrato cut through my work day and made me sit back and listen. wow. when i went to buy the cd at the store i was looking for an african-american woman on the cover. i was shocked to see a blue-eyed blonde, looking folkie and meek, on the cover. but my god, the woman has the soul, depth and power reserved for the best of the best, including mahalia and 1960s aretha.
this cd, all covers, ranges from swinging jazz to traditional folk to blues. eva handles it all with incredible control and taste, with real singing and not the pyrotechno crap you hear on the radio these days. her range inspires awe, especially on "golden thread," in which she reaches a note that would give anyone else a hernia. her interpretation skills are amazing; she manages to breathe new life into songs that have been covered hundreds of times. particular standouts are "autumn leaves," "tall trees in georgia" and "fields of gold," all of which will make you cry; "golden thread," which is as spiritual as any hymn; and "fine and mellow" and "cheek to cheek," which are fun and sexy. the band is also in top form, keeping the sound tight and crisp while giving eva the spotlight.
eva's passing robbed her of what surely would have been a big, long career, and us of an enduring talent. buy this cd and you will not be disappointed.
59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 1998
When "Live at Blues Alley" was released in the spring of 1996, it because an immediate bestseller in the Washington DC area, and everyone who heard it knew -- not thought, KNEW -- that Eva Cassidy was going to be a big star. Only weeks later, however, she was diagnosed with melanoma and she died in November. It's a sad story, but this is not a sad CD, and "Live at Blues Alley" is probably the most upbeat of her albums. If you pass this one by because you already have a few of the songs (on "Songbird") you will miss out on the best recording ever of "What a Wonderful World" as well as a terrific down-home-gospel version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," a blithe and sunny "Honeysuckle Rose," and an eclectic bunch of others.
There's definitely a live album ambiance, as the title suggests. Eva introduces "What a Wonderful World" with a dedication to her parents -- particularly poignant when you know that "What a Wonderful World" was eventually the last music she sang in public, at a benefit concert the local music community held to help with her medical bills.
One of our local record stores had this apt summation: "Some artists have spent their entire careers in search of one good album -- Eva nailed it on her first try." This CD won many awards at the "Wammies" (Washington Area Music Association awards) including Album of the Year and Artist of the Year for Eva.
My opinion? Eva Cassidy is STILL going to be a big star, even though it's posthumously. Somebody in Hollywood is going to have the vision to use her heart-stopping performances in a romantic "date movie" (probably starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan), and maybe soon after that some of her unreleased studio recordings will make it onto another Eva album. Cross your fingers, and if you know anyone in the movie business, spread the word!
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2001
...the impact that Eva Cassidy has had on my life. After seeing a nightime news magazine feature on this incredible talent, I had to purchase a CD to experience her unbelievable voice. I ended up buying 4 CD's, Time After Time, Eva By Heart, Songbird, and Live at Blues Alley. They are indeed magnificant in the way they present perhaps the best female vocalist ever, however, the pure vocal artistry and unbridled energy and passion of Eva Cassidy comes through best on the Live CD. Her powerful sweeping vocal lines soar above mere music to heights which only angels should dare to attempt. Ms Cassidy takes incredible artistic and vocal risks, but never loses control. When her human limits are reached, as in the final note on "Autumn Leaves", she simply weaves the results into the beautiful musical tapestry she has created and we are all enriched by witnessing yet another magnificent Eva moment. Like air bubbles in hand blown glass, these "imperfections" add character, beauty, and Eva Cassidy's own stamp of genius on the tune as well as our souls. I have owned this CD for less than a month, but it is the first thing I reach for when I get in my car, and I am rarely dry-eyed when I arrive at most of my destinations. If good music - the kind that has the power to change lives forever - is important to you, you MUST experience Eva.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2001
This recording is amazing. I know the reviews here (and for most of Eva Cassidy's brief recorded work) are so full of uncritical praise and passion that it's hard to separate the quality of the art from the emotions. But have no fear, this album is the real thing!
This is one of the best live recordings I've ever heard. Eva Cassidy's voice SOARS, and the band works very well with her. No, the band isn't amazing, but they are very good. But the star here is Eva's voice, pure and simple.
Her voice is so full of passion and fireworks that it is almost overwhelming at times (think Aretha Franklin--yes, I'm not kidding). Hard to believe such a big, galvanizing voice was packed in such a little, blonde, fair-skinned body. It's especially hard to take the fact that she was gone before most of us even found this (I have to believe in the "better late than never" adage). When she dedicates "What a Wonderful World" to her parents (who were in the audience), your heart will break as you wonder what her parents must feel and experience when they listen to this album.
All the tracks are essential here. But for me, "da bomb" is her soaring version of Curtis Mayfield's classic gospel/rock number "People Get Ready". Good God almighty, Eva Cassidy is a quintessential example of what a soul singer is and should be! Goosebumps especially abound when she sings the middle chorus ("PEOPLE get ready, there's a TRAAAAAAAAIN A COMIIIIIIIN!!!!!!!"). Then she comes down and passionately whispers "you don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord". If you don't feel something during this, then you simply are not alive. Those brief seconds last a lifetime. I don't care how advanced one's musical or aesthetic tastes are, this is something that should move you profoundly.
But aside from that phenomenal track, this album abounds with great tracks. Some old standards can never be heard the same way again: "Cheek To Cheek", "Honeysuckle Rose". Even a blues standard like "Stormy Weather" can never be heard the same way again ("LOOOOOOOORD have mercy"). All of it is amazing.
Please don't cheat yourself out of an incredibly moving (not to mention fun) listening experience. This is one of the best voices I've ever heard, and I've heard many great voices.
It's hard to sell artists on people, but Eva Cassidy is an easy sell. Everyone I've played this for has been amazed. PLEASE let yourself be!!
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2001
I heard about Eva Cassidy on "Nightline", stopped what I was doing when I heard this spectacular voice!! Felt like crying when I heard she was no longer living. With an angelic voice like that, it makes me so sad. I bought "Songbird" first, loved every song on it---I am a Judy Garland lover, and never did I think anyone could come close to a perfect "Over The Rainbow", but she did it in such a beautiful way. She is SO GOOD! Her range is amazing. Then I had to have "Blues Alley", thank you, Amazon, for having these wonderful cds. I really do not know which one is my favorite. "Cheek To Cheek" is a delight, "Tall Trees in Georgia" is fantastic, "Fields of Gold" is so great, and "What A Wonderful World" has to be my all time favorite! I had only heard Louis Armstrong sing that. I run out of words to describe this lovely young lady sing. Each song is so different, the way she sings from jazz to gospel blows me away.
Her mother, father, sisters and brother must be so proud!!! Her friend, Chris, must so happy that he and her other musician friends pushed her into recording. It is so sad when I hear her sing "What A Wonderful World" on this cd, because later, when she was so so sick, I believe this was the last song she sang at Blues Alley. Hopefully, she knows all the excitement she has caused, and we are lucky to hear what she has done. I just wish with all my heart that she was still recording. But, who knows? she's got to be leading the angels with that beautiful, haunting voice. She will not be forgotten!
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2001
For am extremely shy person like Eva Cassidy, performing AT ALL wasn't easy, let alone in front of a live audience. But thank goodness she was able to overcome her fears and grace us with her super-eclectic musical range (from jazz and blues to folk, gospel, R&B, and rock), all of which she knocks out of the ballpark with her amazing voice, passion, and love for the music!
Some adjectives to describe Eva Cassidy? How about: haunting, gorgeous, inspirational, tear-jerking, powerful, tender, melodic, eclectic, amazing, astonishing, heartfelt, intelligent, poignant, original, awe-inspiring, brilliant. I guess that's enough for starters! And if you think I'm exaggerating, just listen to this CD (or "Eva by Heart" or "Time After Time"), and decide for yourself. (If her version of Sting's "Fields of Gold" on this CD -- or "How Can I Keep From Singing," on "Eva by Heart" -- doesn't send chills up your spine, then nothing will!)
The bottom line: if you haven't heard Eva Cassidy, you are really missing out on something. Specifically, one of the greatest voices ever.. And here we have nearly an hour of that great voice entertaining and mesmerizing a live audience at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. I just wish Eva Cassidy were still around for many more live shows, but, since that's not possible, "Live at Blues Alley" is the next best thing. Spread the word...
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2000
This is a disc that everyone, and I mean everyone should own! I first heard Eva's version of Sting's Fields of Gold while visiting my local independant record store and I have been hooked ever since. From the blissfully jazzy opening track "Cheek to Cheek" Eva takes you on whirlwind ride as her enchanting vocals whisk you away to a places no other singer of her generation can match. The depth of feeling is unrivaled on classic tracks such as "Autumn Leaves" or "What a Wonderful World". Then there is the raw power and soul of "Take me to the river" and the awesome, tear-jerking emotion of "Fields of Gold". This CD has spread in the UK not by promotion but by word of mouth and the word is spreading like wild-fire as Eva Cassidy's voice enchants more and more. There is only one downside to this CD and that is the tragic story of Eva Cassidy herself, there is truely only one way to descibe her, she has the voice of an angle. SDG.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2002
I didn't realize as I began watching the Olympics last month, that the most treasured gift I would carry away from the experience was the discovery of a musical artist I had never heard before. As I watched the exhibition for Figure Skating on the final Friday of the Olympics, I was mesmerized as Michelle Kwan started to skate. Michelle skated beautifully, but it wasn't her graceful spins and powerful jumps the held my rapt attention.... it was the voice. A crystal pure soprano voice was singing a simple and tender rendition of Sting's "Fields of Gold"... one I'd never heard it before..
I took it upon myself to search the internet for the name of the artist, and discovered Eva Cassidy. I was thrilled to have found her - and equally saddened to find that she'd died in 1996 (at age 33) of cancer. My husband surprised me with a gift of "Live at Blues Alley" yesterday - and I have listened to it over and over and over. Eva displays amazing agility, power, soul, depth and emotion in her songs. She masters styles from jazz to blues, gospel to pop (her ballads being the most memorable for me)... and I often find myself simply stopping whatever I'm doing to listen, totally captivated by her angelic voice. Do yourself a favor, and buy this CD.