(Rare Songs, Very Personal) by Nancy Wilson – reviewed by Chris Mann
year, singer and “song stylist” Nancy Wilson celebrates 50 years
in the music business.
15 she won a talent show in Columbus, Ohio. The prize was her own
twice-weekly television show, Skyline Melodies. In 1959, when she
moved to New York, Nancy met her long-time manager John Levy who got
her signed to Capitol Records, where she was to stay for 20 years.
could rightly be said to have been “discovered” by Cannonball
Adderley and an album she cut with him in 1962 certainly established
her jazz credentials. After
countless television guest appearances, NBC gave Nancy her own network
series, The Nancy Wilson Show, for which she won an Emmy award for the
of her more interesting albums from her recent career came about in
1991, when pop singer Barry Manilow was given a stack of lyrics
written by the late Johnny Mercer which the great songwriter had never
put to music. Manilow added melodies and chose Nancy to sing the
resultant songs. When the
NPR radio network was looking for an articulate voice with both name
value and jazz credibility to host their series, Jazz Profiles, Nancy
was the obvious choice. Not only does she know the music, but she also
knows the artists personally.
is an album of classic songs that Nancy has long loved but never
recorded until now…
Older Man Is like An Elegant Wine
is very mellow and centres around the classy jazz trio of Llew
Matthews on piano, Dwayne Dolphin on bass and Jamey Haddad on piano,
as do most of the songs here. Jean
“Toots” Thielemans’ harmonica sounds like an old friend (as
ever) and Phil Woods’ tenor sax smoulders.
In contrast to the deeply romantic opener is the vibrant swing
of Day In, Day Out which features the All-Star Big Band.
There’s nice vocal phrasing, showing the confidence that
comes with this degree of experience.
Did I Choose You
is a duet with Kenny Latimore. I
love the strings and that yearning back-of-the-throat yelp from Nancy. Though Latimore’s silky vocal reminds me of George Benson
(and I love it), I’m not 100% convinced that the vocal lines combine
perfectly. The backing
vocals on I Wish I’d Met You sound like New York Voices or
Manhattan Transfer. Joe Negri’s gauzy semi-acoustic guitar makes this song for
me. The atmosphere is
lazy and gorgeous.
I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart, the Big Band sound breezy
again but this time the voice is more out front.
Phil Woods on alto sounds great.
The trademark vocal stylings are all over the romantic ballad, Goodbye.
The band do little more than keep time and provide melodic
accents – and that’s all that’s needed on what I think is my
is very bluesy and sentimental. Paquito
D’Rivera’s wistful clarinet adds such a lot to the sombre tone of
the song. The vocal by
Nancy on Minds Of Their Own is my favourite vocal performance
on the album. The song
has a gentle Latin lilt, which you’d expect when you see Ivan Lins’
name in the credits.
brings something special and soulful to Little Green Apples and
she sounds equally soulful – and sexy too – on You’ll See.
The singing, glowing trombone of Bill Watrous provides a great
balance to the vocal stylings on this deeply touching ballad.
dancing snare and piano with Gary Burton’s playful, sparse vibes
make That’s All a pure delight.
A woman in the prime of her life is making promises to her man.
By the vibes solo, you’re totally hooked.
Beautiful. This is
how jazz vocals should be. Jamie
Cullum did a lovely version of Blame It On My Youth on his
“Twenty Something” album and
this alternative slant from a more mature performer is good to
hear. To have George
Shearing on piano is also a rare treat.
This is an uncluttered arrangement and a great closer to the
first remember hearing Nancy Wilson’s fabulous voice in 1976 or so
on a jazzy song called “Now”. In the intervening years, I’ve heard her on The
Crusaders’ “Good and Bad Times” album and that’s all.
This latest CD, where her voice sounds unbelievably strong,
makes me realise what I’ve been missing…
the lights down, pour some ‘elegant’ wine and enjoy!
Craftsmen’s Guild – MCGJ 1013 – Producers Jay Ashby and Marty