10

Annie Ross: To Lady with Love

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Annie Ross: To Lady with Love London-born, Scottish-bred singer Annie Ross, who is perhaps best known (with Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks) as part of the hip vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (LHR) in the 1950s and '60s, was eighty-three years old when this earnest tribute to Billie Holiday, To Lady with Love, was recorded in 2013. At her advanced age, Ross is far more stylist than singer, a fact that is further amplified by the slender backing of only two guitarists, father Bucky and son John Pizzarelli, and a program comprised entirely of languorous ballads (Johnny Mercer's shuffling "Travelin' Light" is the only tune that embodies any sort of animating impulse).

Meaning no disrespect to Ross, whose reputation as a jazz vocalist is exemplary, but the range is simply no longer there (she struggles with any note outside her narrow comfort zone) and the articulation isn't what it once was either. On certain words or phrases, the sound is akin to what one might expect to hear from someone who has had extensive dental work, which may in fact be the case. As for Ross's technique, it entails more "speaking on key" than singing as customarily perceived, and even then the timbre is at times unsteady.

Ross's brief spoken introduction precedes ten standards recorded by Lady Day, most of them from the 1958 album Lady in Satin. Ross then closes with one of her own lyrics, "Music is Forever," a warmhearted salute to legendary jazz artists co-written with pianist Russ Freeman. Ross has studiously avoided updating several of Holiday's more memorable themes, such as "Good Morning, Heartache," "God Bless the Child" and "Fine and Mellow," as they have been appraised from almost every angle by a succession of well-known and talented artists. Instead, she focuses on evergreens from the Great American Songbook including "For All We Know," "A Ghost of a Chance," "You Don't Know What Love Is," "When Your Lover Has Gone," I Get Along Without You Very Well" and "Easy to Remember," each of which calls for a relatively concise vocal span. An accompanying fifteen-minute-long DVD consists of interviews with Ross and the Pizzarellis.

In his liner notes, Will Friedwald compares To Lady with Love to other albums "that spotlight one of the heavyweight interpreters who risk presenting themselves in settings that leave them completely exposed," as for example Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett / Bill Evans, and Carmen McRae. "In such a setting," he notes, "there's no place to hide, no carpet under which to sweep any shortcomings." Which is perhaps why it is best not to make the attempt once you are well into your eighth decade. In her prime, Annie Ross could have made this remembrance a wonderful tour de force; alas, this is not that same Annie Ross. If sheer nostalgia inspires you, go for it; otherwise, you'd best give this one a pass.

Track Listing: To Lady; For All We Know; I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance; I’m a Fool for You; Violets for Your Furs; You Don’t Know What Love Is; You’ve Changed; When Your Love Has Gone; I Get Along Without You Very Well; It’s Easy to Remember; Travelin’ Light; Music is Forever.

Personnel: Annie Ross: vocals; Bucky Pizzarelli: guitar; John Pizzarelli: guitar.

Title: To Lady with Love | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Red Anchor Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read L.O.T.U.S. CD/LP/Track Review L.O.T.U.S.
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Art in the Age of Automation CD/LP/Track Review Art in the Age of Automation
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Promethean" CD/LP/Track Review Promethean
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion
by John Sharpe
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "Words And Music" CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Hybrido - From Rio to Wayne Shorter" CD/LP/Track Review Hybrido - From Rio to Wayne Shorter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Prototype" CD/LP/Track Review Prototype
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 13, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.