This album captures two related events. The first seven tracks are Ronnie Wells' concert at the 10th Annual East Coast Jazz Festival which is a source of funds for Wells' Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship Fund, which she has been active with for years. On this portion of the program, she is backed by some of Washington, D. C.'s top musicians with Aaron Graves taking the place of long time piano confederate, Ron Elliston. The last four tracks are a part of the same event, but was dubbed the jam session portion of the program where things get a little looser. Wells is joined by such jazz luminaries as Houston Person and Keter Betts and, most of all, by vocal legend Ernie Andrews. Each time I hear a Wells album (and I possess most of them), I find myself getting even more agitated than usual at the music business. This woman is one of the finest purveyors of the contents of the Great American Popular Songbook extant and should be a household name in every jazz residence in the country. Wells puts more of her very talented self into what she sings since the heyday of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter, without resorting to the embellishments of the latter two. Her rich, full wide- ranged voice delivers the material as if you are the only one in the audience. She envelops and cushions you with that strong but subtle set of pipers of hers. Listen to her on "Blue Prelude" as she rides in on the guitar of Steve Abshire and piano of Aaron Graves, later taking full advantage of James King's bass and the soulful alto of Charlie Young. In short, she uses everything that has been put at her disposal to their greatest advantage in setting off her unique vocal interpretations. On the four cuts she shares with Andrews, a bouncing version of Barry Gordy's "Try It Baby" takes first prize. Person"s tenor. laying down the soul in the background, make this an R & B Motown-like Treasure, recalling the good days of Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. Highly recommended.
Check out Wells web page at www.dcjazz.com/jazzkarmarecords.
Personnel: Ronnie Wells, Ernie Andrews* - Vocals; Aaron Graves - Piano; James "The Tex" King - Bass; Mike Smith - Drums; Steve Abshire - Drums; Ricky Loza - percussion; Charles Young - Alto Sax; Houston Person* - Tenor Sax; Keter Betts* - Bass; Aaron Graves - Piano; Clyde Adams - Drums*