Jeanne Lee and Mal Waldron: After Hours (1994)
While Lee’s voice is an acquired taste, it is often grand and expressive. Lee soars through her remarkable range, but she always retains a sense of intimacy. Waldron, who spent the last few years of Billie Holiday’s life as her accompanist, is sensitive to Lee’s needs as he improvises behind her. Yet Waldron never fails to enchant the listener with his haunting tone and his unique touch. After Hours has a meditative rather than romantic air about it, which suits both Lee and Waldron’s styles. Both artists are masters of understatement, drawing more attention with a whisper than many could with a shout.
The song selection is eclectic. An exotic “Caravan” sits alongside a mournful “Goodbye Pork- Pie Hat” and a sultry “I Could Write a Book.” Each performance is rich and deeply nuanced, inviting the listener to “listen and dig it,” as Lee sings in “Pork-Pie Hat.”
Can you dig it? Mal Waldron was playing what he was feeling.
Track Listing: Caravan; You Go to my Head; I Could Write a Book; Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat; Straight Ahead; Fire Waltz; I Let a Song Go Out of my Heart; Every Time We Say Goodbye.
Personnel: Jeanne Lee, voice; Mal Waldron, piano
Record Label: Owl Records