Deep SongA Tribute To Billie Holiday is made up of vocalist Ranee Lee's wonderful renditions of classic Holiday recordings. Originally released in 1989, the disc has been beautifully remastered by Canada's Justin Time Records, with two bonus tracks added. True to her style, Lee doesn't try to create Holiday's unique plaintive quality but brings her own warm, earthy individuality to each track.
Pianist Oliver Jones, handles most of the arrangements and also does stellar work in accompaniment. Also backing Lee is the great veteran bassist Milt Hinton, who played with Holiday five decades ago.
Lee was born in 1942 in New York City and is now a renowned Canadian jazz vocalist and musician, residing in Montreal. In addition to musical activities, she writes children's books, as well as being a respected jazz educator. She released her first album in 1989, and was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2006.
Two Holiday standbys set high standards here. "Crazy When He Calls Me" features Lee's lovingly wistful vocal, enhanced by a dreamy piano, while the up-tempo romp of "What A Little Moonlight Can Do" finds the band in pleasing unison with Lee's vocalese, the heart of it all pumped by Jones' swirling piano in an Oscar Peterson mode.
The band gets a chance to stretch out on solos in "Them There Eyes," while with "God Bless the Child," Lee is a dead ringer for Holiday as she ups the beat on the singer's soulful masterpiece "Fine and Mellow," from the celebrated 1957 TV show The Sound of Jazz. (For those who haven't checked out this classic hour, there are several uploads on YouTube.)
In the last few years, honors have been piling up for Lee; in addition to the Order of Canada, she received a 2010 Juno Award for her Ranee Lee Lives Upstairs (Justin Time, 2009). In rebirth, this also should be a contender.
I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone; When A Woman Loves A Man; Crazy When He
Calls Me; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; God Bless The Child; Somebody's On My
Mind; Easy Livin; Strange Fruit; Ain't Nobody's Business; Them There Eyes; Don't
Explain; Deep Song; Fine And Mellow; Ill Wind.
Ranee Lee: vocals; Richard Ring: guitar; Oliver Jones: piano; Milt Hinton: bass; Richard
Beaudet: saxophone and flute; Archie Alleyne: drums.