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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nnenna Freelon & the John Brown Big Band: Christmas

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Renowned jazz singer Nnenna Freelon's first Christmas album truly is a gift, made possible by a small bequest from her Christmas-loving mother and a long-time friendship with John Brown, director of Duke University's Jazz Studies program and leader of the splendid John Brown Big Band. Brown not only made his ensemble available but co-produced the album with Freelon and released it on his own label, Brown Boulevard Records. It's clear that this is something Freelon has wanted to do for some time, as she eagerly embraces the Christmas spirit on Frank Foster's arrangement of “Swingle Jingle Bells" ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nnenna Freelon Live At The Saville Theater, San Diego

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Nnenna Freelon Saville Theater, San Diego City College San Diego, CA November 9, 2010 Vocalist Nnenna Freelon has enjoyed her share of commercial success over the years (she's been nominated for six Grammy Awards), but not enough to damage her artistic integrity. She's got one hell of a voice, which she employs to great effect by never overdoing it. She has the innate ability to organize most of her phrasing just a fraction behind the beat--something jazz musicians have been doing for years to enhance the swing factor. Freelon has also learned to tell ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nnenna Freelom: Homefree

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Nnenna Freelon can be spotted miles off, like neon or a rainbow. The tall, rawboned, outspoken gal from Cambridge, MA via North Carolina owns a musical persona as unique as her name. She nails her ancient/modern, genre-jumping repertoire, embraces it, inhabits it organically and belts it with a hearty, emphatic attack. You can tell her from a phrase--even a note--as she goes merrily variegating vowels, taffy-pulling syllables, signifying scat sounds (gong-gong), sing-songing exit vamps; check her risqué post-play on “The Lamp Is Low." She and her working band of 10 years--Brandon McCune (piano), Wayne ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nnenna Freelon and Evidence Dance Celebrate Lady Day at Apollo Premiere

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Nnenna Freelon, Ronald K. Brown and Evidence Dance Company The Blueprint of a Lady Apollo Theater, NYC November 10, 2007

Subtitled “The Once and Future Life of Billie Holiday," a concept of vocalist Nnenna Freelon in collaboration with choreographer-dancer Ronald K. Brown and his Evidence Dance Company, the occasion was introduced by Jonelle Procope, President of the Apollo Foundation, as the “the first Art & Soul presentation of The Apollo Performing Arts Series.

The Apollo Theater event was preceded by a Friday evening “Collaborative Spirit" interview moderated by NJPAC's Baraka Sele to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nnenna Freelon: Blueprint of a Lady

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Nnenna Freelon and Billie Holiday have many things in common. Both possess a unique vocal timbre that's instantly identifiable. Both have worked with superb accompanists who honor the jazz tradition admirably. And both interpret songs with the kind of deep feeling that endears each performance to our hearts. We can't help falling in love with their performances.

With her sixth Concord release, which comes highly recommended, Freelon sings the songs that Billie Holiday left us. “Don't Explain" and “God Bless the Child" have become world treasures. Blueprint of a Lady also includes Holiday's “Left Alone" and “Now or ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nnenna Freelon: Blueprint of a Lady: Sketches of Billie Holiday

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Nnenna Freelon's latest project pays tribute to singer Billie Holiday in the best possible way--without imitation and putting her own interpretations on material written by or associated with Lady Day. Her band, adjusted to fit the mood of each song, skillfully complements her at every turn. Freelon's phrasing and vocal clarity contribute to an overall feeling that is more positive than Holiday's often dark and plaintive renditions of the same material. Interspersed within this tribute are three natural fits that don't come directly from the Holiday Songbook. “Only You Will Know and “Interlude-Little Brown Bird are original ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nnenna Freelon: Tales of Wonder: Celebrating Stevie Wonder

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For her latest album, Nnenna Freelon has set aside what she calls the music of her parents to pay tribute to one of the most talented artists of her day, Stevie Wonder. For me, this album is a curious homage. Instead of capturing the joy of Wonder's music, Freelon sings as if she were worshiping at a temple erected to honor of the composer. The arrangements are heavy, spiritual and muddy, lacking any crispness. Some of her interpretations of Wonder's works are unique to say the least. “The Tears of a Clown" has a spiritual tinge to it with Freelon's ...



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