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Juanita Williams: It's Who I Am

Robert Spencer By

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Oh yes. If you're looking for a big voiced, confident, blustery, bluesy singer, you've found her in Juanita Williams. On this array of ten stylistically varied songs she demonstrates that she can belt with the best of them ("Every Day I Have the Blues") as well as bring it down a little to tug at the heartstrings ("God Bless the Child"). But even on this latter track, made so famous by Billie Holiday, she goes full out and situates the broken emotion of the song in quite a different place from the one Billie found. I'm not sure Billie's kind of introspection is even possible anymore, and Juanita Williams has given us a full-throated "God Bless the Child" for the Nineties, a post-pop diva tour de force that would put Whitney or Mariah to shame. Indeed, with a voice as strong as Juanita has, she can handle more straightforward pop material ("Until You Come Back to Me") with aplomb.

Her sidemen are no slouch on this disc either. Tenor saxophonist Saul Miller has a fluid versatility - an ability to solo with a sensitive emotional modulation. He shines especially on "So Good." The big band is able to dip into funk without losing the jazz nuances of the horns, and is big enough not to be overwhelmed by Juanita's grand voice. Bravo, Juanita Williams!

Track listing: Every Day I Have the Blues / Teach Me Tonight / God Bless the Child / Evil Gal Blues / Please Don't Say You're Sorry Again / Until You Come Back to Me / Today I Sing the Blues / I Just Found Out About Love / So Good / What a Wonderful World

| Record Label: HQ | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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