Having had the pleasure of hearing the most recent of Sathima Bea Benjamin's albums, Musical Echoes, some six months ago, I'm hesitant to add any more superlatives now that this retrospective look at the career of one of our finest jazz vocalists is about to be released. SongSpirit covers recordings made from 1963-2002. This collection of recordings shows Benjamin's affinity for pianists and includes the participation of some of the best: including Duke Ellington, Kenny Barron, Larry Willis and, of course, Abdullah Ibrahim, her husband.
The dozen selections include songs borrowed from the Great American Songbook, plus some of Sathima Bea Benjamin's own compositions, reflecting her interests in African heritage, as well as her feelings about South Africa's restrictive policies over the decadesand these songs can be best expressed by the titles "Children of Soweto," "Africa" and "Music."
The earliest recording comes from a Duke Ellington meeting, including violinist Svend Asmussen, on "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good." A previously unreleased duet recording of "It Never Entered My Mind" with Abdullah Ibrahim comes from Switzerland in 1973. Among the compositions that are burnished by the singer are "I Only Have Eyes For You," "Indian Summer," "Lush Life" and "Memories of You." Additional contributions feature saxophonists Ricky Ford (tenor on "Music") and Carlos Ward (alto on "Children of Soweto").
The liner notes include a most interesting interview with Sathima Bea Benjamin by jazz critic Francis Davis.
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, Duke Ellington, Henry February, Onaje Allan
Gumbs, Abdullah Ibrahim, Stephen Scott, Larry Willis, piano; Johnny Gertze, Basil Moses,
Buster Williams: bass;
Lulu Gontsana, Billy Higgins, Hakhaya Malkhaya, Ben Riley, Lulu Gontsana, Vincent Pavitt,
drums; Svend Asmussen: Pizzacato violin; Carlos Ward: alto saxophone; Ricky Ford: tenor
Year Released: 2006
| Record Label: Ekapa
| Style: Vocal
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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