274

Nnenna Freelon: Maiden Voyage

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
No matter how impressive the voice, no matter how well–oiled the pipes — and Lord knows Nnenna Freelon is abundantly blessed in both respects — he or she simply cannot rise far above the material. Although Freelon makes a gallant effort on Maiden Voyage, the ship barely gets out of drydock, overladen with forgettable lyrics and lashed to its moorings by mundane melodies. Too harsh? Perhaps. But if I were going to open a set with eight sleep–inducing originals, as Freelon has done, I wouldn’t remind the listener of their relative lack of substance by following them with “Pick Yourself Up” and “I Won’t Dance,” enduring classics from the golden age of Tin Pan Alley (with memorable words by the clever tunesmith Dorothy Field). In fact, the session doesn’t take wing until Freelon introduces those treasures and closes with Blossom Dearie’s pensive ballad, “Inside a Silent Tear” (lyrics by Linda Albert), and her own “Sing Me Down“ (actually her lyrics set to a folk song whose name, I believe, is “Turn Around”). The melodies and lyrics that precede them really are lightweight; while Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” and Marian McPartland’s “Threnody” (here renamed “Sepia Wing” to mirror Freelon’s lyrics) are splendid as instrumentals, appending lyrics does nothing to enhance their appeal. Among the others, only Freelon’s “Future News Blues” held this listener’s ear for more than a moment. While I am hardly conversant with the works of Nina Simone, Laura Nyro and Buffy Sainte–Marie, surely their reputations weren’t built on the sort of uninspired material that is presented here. On a brighter note, if one would like to sing along, lyrics to each song (not always unerring) are provided in the accompanying booklet. As for Freelon, she sings beautifully — which, for the most part, is rather like adding a delectable frosting to cow chips.


Track Listing:

Come Into My Life; Four Women; Maiden Voyage; Buy and Sell; Future News Blues; Until It

Personnel:

Nnenna Freelon, vocals; Michael Abene, piano, arranger; Joe Beck, guitar; Avishai Cohen, bass; Sammy Figueroa, percussion; Danny Gottlieb, drums; Herbie Hancock, piano (

| Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Empty The Headbin" CD/LP/Track Review Empty The Headbin
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 15, 2016
Read "Obnoxius" CD/LP/Track Review Obnoxius
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Starer" CD/LP/Track Review Starer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 26, 2016
Read "From the Heart" CD/LP/Track Review From the Heart
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Contrasts" CD/LP/Track Review Contrasts
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 30, 2016
Read "Shoebox View" CD/LP/Track Review Shoebox View
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!