Judy Bady’s first CD as a leader, Blackbird, is an eleven song collection that expresses a range of emotion from plaintive and serious, spiritual and soulful, to teasing and joyful. Bady, whose voice brings to mind the wonderfully rich tones of Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Shirley Horn and Abbey Lincoln, adds playful touches to tunes by Monk, Ellington, Jobim and others. Bady also inoculates the listener with an injection of gospel soul, particularly in her rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” There is also a great deal of fun with liberties taken with lyrics to “Bye Bye Blackbird,” and “The Sunny Side of the Street.” In spite of any levity in her approach however, throughout the recording, Bady is very serious about swinging and singing with a great groove and feel.
Bady is certainly a “thinking person’s” jazz singer. Her amendments to the lyrics of “Bye Bye Blackbird” make references from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” to Charlie Parker and a whole host of other birds. Her treatment of Abbey Lincoln’s lyrics to Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk” loses nothing on the original sung by Carmen McRae. She also tickles the funny bone with her tongue and cheek attack on lawyers and politicians with her accretions to the lyrics of the McHugh/Fields standard “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”
Bady’s tender side comes through on the wrenching ballad of lost love “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” and her spiritual rendition of “If One Could Only See” is enough to convert any sinner. The buoyant “The Nearness of You” serves as an upbeat expression of love coupled again, with some fun improvised lyrics expressed toward members of her backup band and others present in the studio at the time of the recording.
Bady adds a touch of the exotic with her rendition of the Ellington/Tizol tune “Caravan.” The opening vocal has her evoking an imitation of the chant of a Middle Eastern prayer leader. Jobim’s “Dindi” follows a relaxed groove and the use of the electric piano lends somewhat of a sound reminiscent of the 1970’s. Stretching her scatting legs on the tune “That’s All,” Bady joyfully improvises accompanied simply by nothing more than a snare drum. The final cut on Blackbird is an original by Bady and her pianist Misha Piatigorsky, “Je Me Souvien (I Remember)” another sensitive ballad recalling a former love.
Judy Bady is certainly a talent worth keeping an eye (and ear) on. Her voice, her sense of swing, and mostly her joyful and fun approach to music making are a refreshing and enlightening experience.
Track Listing: Bye Bye Blackbird, Monkery's The Blues, On The Sunny Side of the Street, You Don't Know What Love Is, Caravan, Battle Hymn of the Republic, If One Could Only See, The Nearness of You, Dindi, That's All, Je Me Souvien' (I Remember)