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Tales Of Wonder

3.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 11, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

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Stevie Wonder is the Gershwin of our era, and jazz musicians have been performing his tunes for years. His harmonically complex compositions are an improviser's dream. Here, the deliciously feline vocalist Nnenna Freelon interprets some well-known and lesser-known Wonder songs with excellent taste and mature ingenuity. She does not radically alter Wonder's harmonies, but her ebullient phrasing and changes of tempo and mood extend and elaborate Wonder's music into interesting and inventive directions. Supported by a good combo featuring Dave Samuels on vibraphone and marimba, bassist Gerald Beasley, and guitarist Chuck Loeb, Freelon and her cohorts add some Brazilian tinges, light funk, and straight-ahead and jazz-fusion contours to compositions such as "Overjoyed," "My Cherie Amour," and "Superstition." As this loving tribute shows, Freelon does not merely sing a lyric--she embraces it. That rare ability puts her far ahead of the pack and does the music of Stevie Wonder justice. --Eugene Holley Jr.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 11, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Concord Records
  • ASIN: B000066HI1
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,375 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I am surprised at the lukewarm reviews of this CD. Granted, I will likely be biased since I just saw this lady perform last night at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. I was totally captivated by this energetic, very personable and talented vocalist. If you are looking for a straight ahead jazz vocalist singing yet another variation on the old standards you won't find it here. Stevie Wonder wrote some great music and in the 70's he was king. I have always loved the ballad Lately, and in Ms. Freelon's hands she captures the sweet and vunerable emotions perfectly. In Superstition and Until You Come Back to Me, she lays it on over a funky, soulful groove. She is a singer in the soul-jazz vein, pushing the jazz envelope. She is introducing the new standards by composers like Stevie Wonder and Bacharach/David. The rhythms are funky and soulful. She remains true to the melody, but gets inside the lyrics and gives it a fresh interpretation. From what I have read about her she started out as a Sarah Vaughan clone, but has steadily grown and found her own voice. I like performers who take chances and push the boundaries. Any art form has to grow to survive, and it will be innovators like her that keep jazz alive.
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Format: Audio CD
When I first heard that Nnenna was recording a disc of Stevie Wonder's music I was very excited about the possibilities. I have been blessed to have seen Mrs. Freelon perform live in a small-room setting and she set the place on fire. This recording misses the mark on several fronts. First, the songs are flat. Stevie's originals are vibrant and soulful. This recording is missing something. The Jazz elements of Nnenna's beautiful past recordings are absent - using instead a more pop approach to the music. I miss the twists and turns that Nnenna usually injects when she records other artists music. Stevie's songs are so rich in both composition and melody that I thought a superior vocalist like Feelon would shape these beautiful gems into personal magic. I also expected to hear a more percussion driven band than what we have here. During her live shows, Nnenna connects with the drum. Her vocal talents are not well utilized here. Hopefully this is just a pause into pop-land and the next effort will follow in the footsteps of last years excellent "Soul Call." Her previous recordings are far superior to this one.
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Format: Audio CD
What a rare and precious jewel Ms. Freelon is. When you find a singer like her it is cause for celebration. Her voice is rich and smooth as "sweet molasses" -- it just pours over you ever so slowly. Ms. Freelon's commanding style of singing draws you into the song and wraps it around you ever so nicely.
Over the years Stevie Wonder has overwhemlmed and inspired us with his music - Ms. Freelon pays a thrilling tribute to him -- she puts a whole new perspective to his lyrics. Recently while perusing the music section, all I heard her sing was "over time, I've been building a castle of love" and I knew I needed not listen any further. I immediately took off the headphones and proceeded to the checkout counter to purchase this CD; knowing that it would the gem that it is.
Of course she is surrounded by a group of ubelievably great musicians who enhance her voice so beautifully. "Overjoyed" did it for me, then you can actually see and feel the tears on "Tears of a Clown", "All In Love Is Fair" - artfully done, "Bird of Beauty" - a real toe tapper, "Lately" - what can I say, and if you can believe it there's even more.
Can anyone say "let me hear that again" :)
Rush right out and get this CD - you will be very glad you did.
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Format: Audio CD
I have waited eagerly for a few months since reading about this to finally hear it, and I'm not disappointed at all. Freelon is not a singularly unique vocal interpreter in the manner of a Cassandra Wilson, but she does possess a very pleasant and flexible voice that sounds great on these tunes. Believe it or not, the one that hits the hardest and is the most quietly moving is her slowed down, delicate and mournful version of "Tears Of A Clown" -- a song not usually associated with Stevie but for which he was a co-writer. Add in "Black Orchid," a slinky "Superstition," and two personal favorites "Overjoyed" and "Until you Come Back To Me" and you have an album that is well worth the money.
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Format: Audio CD
for stevie's die-hard fans wont be dissapointed.
Nneenna's remarkable grammy nominated voice is undoubtfully... nice. :)
Track Overjoyed, Lately, My Cherie Amour really brings the best of nostalgic years with Stevie's.
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