Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
on 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