Nancy Wilson: Turned To Blue (2006)
Call Nancy Wilson an old fashioned singer. She sings on key. You can understand every lyric. There's no trickery, just putting the song out there straight ahead. Her careful considerations of what she's singing result in a crispy heat that resides in the domain of the peerless Carmen McRae's elegant "less is more style.
This Grammy-nominated set follows up Wilson's 2005 Grammy-winning R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs Very Personal). She brands songs with her own tough-edged warmth. Durham & Matthews' "Knitting Class (on which she gets some sympathetic backup from Jimmy Heath's tenor sax), is prime Wilson. Cooly cooing the opening, "I'll Be Fine Without You, a story of breakup and survival is told between tight-lipped repetitions of "slip one stitch and pearl two.
Love in its various states is the theme throughout, whether on the '40s classic "I'll Be Seeing You (on which she is paired for the first time with Dr. Billy Taylor) or the title tune, a torchy beauty set to a Maya Angelou poem. "Here's To Life composer Artie Butler has provided Wilson with a simple and powerful new tune in "I Don't Remember Ever Growing Old. She's a master at this kind of tour-de-force storytelling.
Wilson has always been comfortable in the company of fine musicians. Among the standouts here are Hubert Laws (flute), Sean Jones (trumpet) and John Clayton (bass), the latter especially on a no-frills rendition of Mann & Weil's "Just Once. Wilson's tersely grunted "hmmm is a priceless opener, setting just the right crusty tone and yet again proving that less can be so much more.
Track Listing: This Is All I Ask; Take Love Easy; Turned To Blue; Knitting Class; Be My Love; Taking A Chance On Love; Just Once; These Golden Years; I Don't Remember Ever Growing Up; Old Folks; I'll Be Seeing You.
Personnel: Nancy Wilson: vocals; James Moody, Tom Scott, Andy Snitzer, Jimmy Heath, Bob Mintzer: tenor sax; Hubert Laws: flute; Sean Jones: trumpet; John Clayton: bass; Dave Samuels: vibes; Andy Narell: steel pan; Llew Matthews, Dr. Billy Taylor: piano.