224

Sathima Bea Benjamin: SongSpirit

By

Sign in to view read count
Sathima Bea Benjamin: SongSpirit Legions of jazz singers are out there these days with good chops and solid work. What is often missing, however, is that individual spark, those personal qualities that set the singer apart from the rest. Sathima Bea Benjamin possesses that spark, with a unique, aching quality in her voice that meshes well with the spirituality that informs her song readings. She can seamlessly move from mournful expression to joyous near exultation, and the SongSpirit compendium brims with these gifts.

This sampling of her work on Ekapa Records from 1963 to 2002, recorded across three continents, finds Benjamin in illustrious company: Duke Ellington, Abdullah Ibrahim, Kenny Barron, the underrated Onaje Allan Gumbs, Stephen Scott and Larry Willis, just to mention the pianists. Add drummers Ben Riley and Billy Higgins, bassist Buster Williams, and saxophonists Carlos Ward and Ricky Ford, among others, and you can see the world-class company she keeps.

Ellington accompanies her on "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good, recorded in Paris in 1963, with pizzicato accompaniment from violinist Svend Asmussen. All hands find something new and substantial to say on this 1941 Ducal mainstay. The familiar also comes in the form of "Indian Summer, "I Only Have Eyes for You, "It Never Entered My Mind and "Lush Life (from a non-Ellington-accompanied session), each treatment distinctly her own.

She dresses some of the more familiar songs with Cape Town rhythms (such as "Indian Summer ), and the memories of her homeland also inform her originals: "Africa, "Children of Soweto" and her signature "Music.

One of Benjamin's greatest gifts is her ability to unearth rarely performed gems. This compilation boasts chestnuts from Eubie Blake and Andy Razaf (a deeply felt "Memories of You ), a W.C. Handy and Spencer Williams medley ("Loveless Love/Careless Love ), Noel Coward's "I'll Follow My Secret Heart, and Victor Herbert and Rida Johnson Young's nearly forgotten confection "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life. Essaying these long-ago musical moments, Benjamin completely bares her soul, most marvelously displaying her guileless expression.

Sathima Bea Benjamin does not conform to any singing template or rule book; rather, she uses her considerable gifts to imbue the songs with her individuality, illuminating them from within.


Track Listing: Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life; I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good; Africa; Indian Summer; It Never Entered My Mind; I Only Have Eyes for You; Memories of You; Music; Lush Life; Children of Soweto; I'll Follow My Secret Heart; Loveless Love/Careless Love

Personnel: Sathima Bea Benjamin: vocals; Kenny Barron: piano (4,9,12); Duke Ellington: piano (2); Henry February: piano (6); Onaje Allan Gumbs: piano (1,3,7,10); Abdullah Ibrahim: piano (5); Stephen Scott: piano (11); Larry Willis: piano (8); Johnny Gertze: bass (2); Basil Moses: bass (6,11); Buster Williams: bass (1,3,4,7,8,9,10,12); Lulu Gontsana: drums (11); Billy Higgins: drums (3,4,8,9,10,12); Makhaya Ntshoko: drums (2); Vincent Pavitt: drums (6); Ben Riley: drums (1,7,); Svend Asmussen: pizzicato violin (2); Carlos Ward: alto saxophone (3,10); Ricky Ford: tenor saxophone (8)

Title: SongSpirit | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Ekapa


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Interview
CD/LP/Track Review
Megaphone
Read more articles

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Been Up So Long It Looks Like Down to Me: The Micros Play...
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Tony Kadleck Big Band: Around the Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Tony Kadleck Big Band: Around the Horn
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Beauty Within" CD/LP/Track Review Beauty Within
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 10, 2016
Read "Skyjack" CD/LP/Track Review Skyjack
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 24, 2016

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.