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An Evening with Lena Horne

Jim Santella By

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Lena Horne
An Evening with Lena Horne
Blue Note
2006

The sentiment that comes embedded in Lena Horne's classy 1994 concert performance at the Supper Club in New York, is enough to carry the show all by itself. Her magnetic personality gives the cabaret performance a full charge of passion that's complemented by her convincing vocal expressions. She's a born communicator.

This performance was broadcast on the A&E television network in December 1994 and was issued on VHS the following year. This release marks its first appearance on DVD.

The camera angles provide views of Horne from the front and sides as well as from afar. Instrumental soloists appear in close-ups, but Horne's image remains at arm's length. The looks that she gives her live audience say it all. This is one veteran singer who's used to explaining a lyric through body language.

Most of the program is performed with her regular backing quintet; five numbers are performed with The Count Basie Orchestra.

She's at her best when singing a medley of Duke Ellington songs alone with bass or when working with the highly expressive "Yesterday, When I Was Young while the full orchestra provides a glowing ambience. Both the Ellington medley and her Cole Porter medley stand out for their comfortable texture and caring attitude.

The Count Basie Orchestra performs "April in Paris and "Jumpin' at the Woodside as instrumental arrangements with all the usual trimmings. They were in fine form for this event, and both arrangements offer superb ensemble counterpoint as well as thrilling solo opportunities. The band's soloists include trombonist Bill Hughes and trumpeter Bob Ojeda on "April in Paris, and tenors Kenny Hing, Doug Miller and Frank Foster on "Jumpin' at the Woodside.

An Evening with Lena Horne, which includes a textual, on-screen biography and liner notes, provides a vivid glimpse of the singer in the twilight of her career, expressing with the kind of sincere passion that only a seasoned veteran can muster.

Tracks: Come Runnin'; I'll Always Leave the Door a Little Open; I've Got to Have You; Maybe; Something to Live For; Mood Indigo; Just Squeeze Me; Do Nothin' 'til You Hear from Me; April in Paris; Jumpin' at the Woodside; I've Got the World on a String; Yesterday, When I Was Young; How's Your Romance?; Why Shouldn't I?; Ours; Just One of Those Things; We'll Be Together Again; Hey, Old Friend; Watch What Happens; Lady is a Tramp.

Personnel: Lena Horne: vocals; Donald Harrison: tenor saxophone; Mike Renzi: piano, synthesizer; Rodney Jones: guitar; Ben Brown: bass; Akira Tana: drums; The Count Basie Orchestra: Frank Foster: director, tenor saxophone; Danny Turner: alto saxophone, flute; Doug Miller, Kenny King: tenor saxophone, flute; John Williams: baritone saxophone; Bob Ojeda, Michael Williams, Derrick Gardner, Scotty Barnhart: trumpet, flugelhorn; Clarence Banks, Melvin Wanzo, Bill Hughes: trombone; George Caldwell: piano; Charlton Johnson: guitar; Cleveland Eaton: bass; Davie Gibson: drums.

Program Notes: Directed by Richie Namm; Approximate running time 72 minutes.

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