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Abbey Lincoln: Abbey Sings Abbey

Suzanne Lorge By

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At almost 77 years of age Abbey Lincoln has been composing, writing and/or performing for almost sixty years, and Abbey Sings Abbey is a stunning collection of some of the singer's most memorable works.

Lincoln is a writer of some depth and the eleven original tunes on this CD offer strong testament to her poetic talents. The lyrics of each song impart a serious message, it's true, but her matter-of-fact acceptance of life's crummier bits leaves one feeling almost optimistic. We all have to go through these awful things, she comforts us by saying, which means that we are not alone.

To the remaining song on the disc—Monk's signature "Blue Monk —Lincoln contributed the kind of lyrics that a jazz singer of her stature can own with a surety bred of several decades of experience: "Finding your one place in the sun/Doesn't come the easy way/Shallow ain't deep, nothing is cheap/ Measure by the dues you pay. And own them she does, both emotionally and musically.

On this CD Lincoln doesn't use the straight-ahead jazz arrangements that one might expect of a singer of her generation. Instead, she creates blues- and country-infused moods by the careful employ of some nontraditional jazz instruments—pedal steel guitar, mandolin, accordion and cello. Her raspy alto with its unhurried bends and shifts probes the nether reaches of the music in the manner of her artistic forebear Billie Holiday, but the album's feel is definitely contemporary. Lincoln's band matches the singer in wit and skill: Larry Campbell (guitars and mandolin), Scott Colley (bass), Shawn Pelton (drums), Gil Goldstein (accordion) and Dave Eggar (cello).

Some of the album's "must listen moments: Lincoln's understated phrasing on the mid-tempo "Throw It Away ; Gil Goldstein's tender solo on the ballad "Bird Alone ; the band's seductive backup and Campbell's forthright solo on the Latin tune "The Music Is The Magic ; and Goldstein's melancholic cello arrangements on "Love Has Gone Away.

Track Listing: Blue Monk; Throw It Away; And It

Personnel: Abbey Lincoln: vocals; Larry Campbell: acoustic guitars, electronic guitar, National resonator guitar, pedal steer guitar, mandolin; Scott Colley: bass; Shawn Pelton: drums; Gil Goldstein: accordion; Dave Eggar: cello.

Title: Abbey Sings Abbey | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Verve Music Group

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