Cynthia Felton has released two exceptionally well-conceived concept recordings in Afro Blue: The Music of Oscar Brown (Self Produced, 2009) and Come Sunday: The Music of Duke Ellington (Self Produced, 2010). She makes a partial break with this refined focus to release a collection of personal favorite standards on Freedom Jazz Dance. Like her two previous recordings, Felton has opted to employ a variety of musicians as available as opposed to a single unit. Clearly, there is no reason to change what has been successful.
The most provocative performance amongst the group is Felton's reading of Eddie Harris and Eddie Jefferson's "Freedom Jazz Dance." Controlled chaos is the best description for both the sparse instruments (a standard piano trio) and Felton's vocals. The studied Felton sings with the closest thing to abandon here, while pianist John Beasley turns in a solo as angular and wrought iron as Felton's vocals. On the whole, Freedom Jazz Dance is not Felton's best, but the performance of the title tune might well be.
Track Listing: Oh Freedom; Take 5; My Funny Valentine; Better Than Anything; My Love Is; Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love; Close Your Eyes; Nature Boy; Lost In The Stars; Cherokee; What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life; Freedom Jazz Dance.
Personnel: Cynthia Felton: vocals; John Beasley: piano (2, 6, 9-12); Donald Brown: piano (3); Cyrus Chestnut: piano (4, 7); Patrice Rushen: piano (8); Edwin Livingston: bass (2, 6, 9-11); Robert Hurst: bass (3, 4, 7); John B. Williams: bass (5); Tony Dumas: bass (8); Ryan Cross: bass (12); Lorca Hart: drums (2, 5, 6, 9-12); Yoron Israel: drums (3, 4, 7); Terri Lyne Carrington: drums (8); Ronald Muldrow: guitar (3, 7); Ernie Watts: tenor saxophone (2); Wallace Roney: trumpet (3); Nolan Shaheed: trumpet (4, 10); Derf Reklaw: percussion (2, 4); Munyoungo Jackson: percussion (5, 8); Carol Robbins: harp (9).
I love jazz because it's been a life's work.
I was first exposed to jazz by my father.
I met Hampton Hawes.
The best show I ever attended was Les McCann.
The first jazz record I bought was Herbie Hancock.
My advice to new listeners is to listen at a comfortable volume.