Customer Reviews: Shaking Free
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon November 16, 2005
While listening to this c.d., I was struck by this thought: Many jazz singers emulate Billie Holiday, and sing slightly behind the beat. Some (though less) emulate Anita O'Day and sing slightly ahead of the beat. Nnenna Freelon doesn't do either: She is rock solid on the beat. Between that and her strong straight-toned voice, she sounds like a female Sammy Davis (in timbre and delivery, though certainly not in style). She's sensational, babe.

On this set, she swings like mad. I don't think I've ever heard "Nature Boy" swung as hard as she swings it here. And "Out of This World" starts as a modal-sounding, 5/4 romp (Reminiscent of "All Blues". Johnny Mercer meets Miles Davis!), before settling into a hard-boppin' four. Dizzy's "Birks Works", done in all scat, likewise will have your hands and feet pounding to the beat. Ditto the old folk song, "Black (Is the Color of my True Love's hair)", with an Egyptian-type of groove. Even "I Thought About You", begun as a free a capella vocalization, settles into a "hard four."

That's not to say that Ms. Freelon can't balladize. She most certainly can, as witnessed by "My Shining Hour", and a wonderful set-ender, "Blue Daughter". I particularly enjoyed her take on Duke's "What Am I Here For", with quotes from "Mood Indigo" and "In My Solitude" thrown in for good measure.

But cooking uptunes is what she does best, and with her sure sense of rhythm, she does such songs sensationally. Highly recommended. RC
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on November 25, 2012
I think this SACD is excellent. Exactly what I expected. It pumps a 5.1 channel signal into my stereo that is properly decoded into its appropriate parts. Vocals coming from the front, and instruments coming from all around. with some instruments heavily in the surround channels. The audio quality for starters, is superb even before adding in the surround. The surround just makes the music more fun. This was a studio recording and not a live one, so don't expect that front row seat feeling. Just expect something that sounds very good with some bonus exercising of your surround system.

If your looking for some kind of in your face experience, this is not it. I don't think you can get that unless the original recording was for surround. Consider this an improved reinterpretation of the original presented to you in 5.1.
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on November 25, 2011
Reading the credits of this SACD, you'll see listed a team of Producers and Engineers who receive credit for this SACD. I hope the Shaking Free SACD was the only time this group got to master a SACD unless they've learned a few lessons along the way. What appears to be an original two channel mix from 1996 ended up as a 5.1 mix for the SACD in 2003. Converting an original two channel mix to a 5.1 mix is tough to do right. It is not simply a matter of taking the multiple of tracks each instrument was recorded on and placing that instrument in a new location with more speakers. What you want is to preserve the feeling that the instruments are on a stage in front of you, and use the extra speakers to expand the acoustics of the room. That means the rear speakers should capture the echo or decay of the sounds like what would happen in a real concert all. When done right you feel more "there" at the performance.

What happened here is the piano is now behind me to the left. How Bill Anschell get there? Am I supposed to be on stage with these people? If so then why is the drummer still in front of me? There is no sense of sound stage or realism to this mix at all and it feels so fake it that for me, I cannot listen to it. What I'm forced to do is go into the setup menu for my player and force the machine to down convert this mix to two channel so it has some sense of realism. At least this way it becomes listenable. I should not have to do this but when the mix is so bad, there is no other choice.

The music itself is great. As a two channel recording it is well done. If I had bought the two channel CD, I would give this four stars. The two star rating is strictly for the SACD mix.
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If there were a rating between 3 and 4, that would more accurately reflect my response to this CD. Nnennon brings a fresh sound and approach to much familiar material on this album, which includes stellar support from the rhythm section and horn players. Her voice takes some getting used to, as its devoid of the smoky sensuality and relaxed seductive qualities characteristic of many of her peers. In many respects, it's an androgynous instrument, possessing a pure, clear, incisive "boyish" quality. Initially, it left me cold, but repeated listenings have made its charms more apparent. In some respects, Rickey Woodard's "Webster-tinged" tenor sax sound is the wrong complement to her voice. An alto sax sound, preferably with some of the purity of a Paul Desmond or Art Pepper, would have made for an ideal pairing.
Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I find Nnenna's energetic, enthusiastic, unself-conscious approach to the music to be a refreshing alternative to the theatrical style, cultivated persona, calculated programming of Cassandra Wilson, jazz' current, much-hyped diva. Jazz is as much a tradition as a style, and any singer who doesn't significantly reflect the legacy of Billie, Ella and Sarah represents more a departure than an innovation in the music's development.
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on June 7, 2012
Thank god for this wonderful voice and the choice to share her gift with the world. If you buy one of her albums, you'll buy them all!!!
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on October 20, 2006
And I also love the Brazilian Standard "I live to love you". This CD is wonderful.
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on July 4, 2010
When I bought this, the seller's listing said it was 'new.' For me, 'new' means 'original'. Unfortunately not the case here. While the CD had the track listings printed on the disc, the songs do NOT show up on other media such as iPods and other media. I've kept the CD but complete truth in advertising would be greatly appreciated.
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