Ernestine Anderson: A Song for You (2009)
So far the jazz world has been relatively immune from this virus, but the growing ease of technology is enabling every aspiring singer to make a CDjust pick some artwork, hire a publicist, and poof: you're in the game. This has resulted in a great uncensored flood of music, much of which is best appreciated by the parents, spouses, and friends of the singer.
, whose bluesy obligatos are so empathic that they're practically verbal. During his thirty-year partnership with the late, also-wonderful Etta Jones, Person perfected the art of the voice/horn dialogue: consistently enhancing a singer's meaning without ever getting in her way. His comments are by turns supportive, witty or ironic, and his solos remain unmatched for their expressiveness and soul.
But into this noisy climate comes a reminder of what true class and swing are all about: A Song for You, from veteran vocalist Ernestine Anderson. Here, backed by a fine and un-fussy quartet, she proves that her six-decade career could not diminish her rich, flexible voice, or her ability to mine the emotional truth in every song; if anything, both are deeper today. Anderson is joined in her explorations by the legendary tenor player Houston Person
: the equally great Johnny Mercer said it took him a whole year to get those lyrics right, and Anderson honors them with a kind of whispering wonder that suits them very well.
Anderson makes her musical intentions clear from the buoyant opener, "This Can't Be Love": she's going to use her singular phrasing and time to freshen every overplayed standard in the set, including the enthusiastic "Make Someone Happy," the R&B-inflected "Lovely Way to Spend an Evening," and the celebratory "Day by Day.". The CD's four ballads include a surprisingly slow and sexy "Candy," as well as the relatively-recent title tune, where Anderson makes the words so personal that it sounds like she just made them up. A word about "Skylark," that timeless beauty by Hoagy Carmichael
All told, A Song for You should be required listening for every singer, since Anderson provides such a rare and invaluable lesson: how to touch the listeners' hearts without having to fill up their ears.
Track Listing: This Can't be Love; A Song for You; Make Someone Happy; Skylark; A Lovely Way To Spend an Evening; Candy; Day by Day; For All We Know.
Personnel: Ernestine Anderson: vocals; Houston Person: tenor saxophone; Lafayette Harris, Jr.: piano; Chip Jackson: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.
Record Label: HighNote Records