Monday, August 16, 2010
A Great Stylist Passes and New Vocal CDs
After her divorce from Roach in 1969, she moved to California and was less active in the music business. In 1989, she signed with Verve Records and released 11 CDs, the last being "Abbey Sings Abbey" in 2007. She certainly displayed a singular style and, to my ears, was more of a storyteller, a griot, than a vocalist. Abbey Lincoln made you listen to what she had to say and did not fit easily into any one category. And, on top of that, she wrote many powerful songs. Check out Doug Ramsey's column on Ms. Lincoln at his "Rifftides" blog (click here) - his short tribute features 2 videos and a link to Nate Chinen's obit in The New York Times.
Victor and Nilsson really make this music their own, bending pieces such as "Mood Indigo" into new and creative shapes. The Ellington/ Bigard tune is slowed down, with slithery slide guitar riffs and plaintive vocal. For the first 115 seconds of Rev. Gary Davis's "If I Had My Way", the unaccompanied Ms. Victor stretches out the first line of the song and continues to do after Nilsson joins her. It's hypnotic, eerie and forceful. "If You Don't Give Me Just What I Want" is much lighter, the Duo struts their stuff and there's some fine scatting from Ms. Vincent. The influence of James "Blood" Ulmer is noticeable during the first half of "Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho", with Ms. Victor's percussive singing and Nilsson hard-edged and mesmerizing guitar work.
This music is so personal yet so universal, heartfelt, challenging and alive. Fay Victor and Anders Nilsson take their time, neither rushing the music nor shortchanging the lyrics. At home, I was on the edge of my chair - in person, the room must be electric with the passion and commitment the artists convey through their music. To find out more, go to www.fayvictor.com. (The CD goes on sale August 31.)
The choice of material reflects a world view, from Miriam Makeba's "Umhome" (nice use of vocal overdubs) to Bjork's "Cover Me" (splendid arrangement by Abene for the big band and strings) to Jobim's "A Felicade" (sung in Portuguese over swing then samba rhythms.) Betty Carter's "Tight" has the vocalist showing the influence of Carter's unique vocal style while the band swings like mad.
There is not a weak track on "Sing!" Claassen's voice is strong, her phrasing, at times like a rich alto saxophone and the arrangements uniformly excellent - one gets the feeling Ms. Claassen sang as the band played and not to already recorded tracks. And, Abene's intelligent integration of the strings into the music shows great thought. Don't pass on this recordings, it's one of the best of the year. For more information, go to www.challengerecords.com or www.fayclaassen.nl.
But, it's TAEKO's show from the opening moment and she displays a supple, dusky (at times) voice, good control of dynamics and a fine understanding of the lyrics. Her choice of material is certainly eclectic, with Sly & The Family Stone's "Stand" next to Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar" and Duke Ellington's "I Didn't Know About You." Not "supper club" material but a set of songs for the modern "jazz club" and, because she has such an expressive voice, also a lot of fun. To find out more, go to www.songbirdtaeko.com.