Call Nancy Wilson an old fashioned singer. She sings on key. You can understand every lyric. There's no trickery, just putting the song out there straight ahead. Her careful considerations of what she's singing result in a crispy heat that resides in the domain of the peerless Carmen McRae's elegant "less is more style.
This Grammy-nominated set follows up Wilson's 2005 Grammy-winning R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs Very Personal). She brands songs with her own tough-edged warmth. Durham & Matthews' "Knitting Class (on which she gets some sympathetic backup from Jimmy Heath's tenor sax), is prime Wilson. Cooly cooing the opening, "I'll Be Fine Without You, a story of breakup and survival is told between tight-lipped repetitions of "slip one stitch and pearl two.
Love in its various states is the theme throughout, whether on the '40s classic "I'll Be Seeing You (on which she is paired for the first time with Dr. Billy Taylor) or the title tune, a torchy beauty set to a Maya Angelou poem. "Here's To Life composer Artie Butler has provided Wilson with a simple and powerful new tune in "I Don't Remember Ever Growing Old. She's a master at this kind of tour-de-force storytelling.
Wilson has always been comfortable in the company of fine musicians. Among the standouts here are Hubert Laws (flute), Sean Jones (trumpet) and John Clayton (bass), the latter especially on a no-frills rendition of Mann & Weil's "Just Once. Wilson's tersely grunted "hmmm is a priceless opener, setting just the right crusty tone and yet again proving that less can be so much more.
This is All I Ask; Take Love Easy; Turned to Blue; Knitting Class; Be My Love; Taking a Chance
on Love; Just Once; These Golden Years; I Don't Remember Ever Growing Up; Old Folks; I'll Be
Nancy Wilson: vocal; Alon Yavnai, Llew Matthews, Dr. Billy Taylor: piano; Marty Ashby,
acoustic guitar; Nilson Matta, Rufus Reid, Kip Reed, John Clayton: bass; Mike Tomaro, Tia
Fuller, alto saxophone;
Bob Mintzer, Tom Scott, Andy Snitzer, Eric DeFade, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, tenor
saxophone; Jim Hynes, Steve Hawk, Sean Jones, Jack Schantz, trumpet; Ed Kocher, Douglas
Purviance, Jay Ashby,
trombone; Hubert Laws, Jennifer Conner: flute; Mike Tomaro: clarinet, bass clarinet; Jim
German: baritone saxophone; Jeremy Black, Kate Black, Kate Hatmaker, Stephanie Tertick:
violin; Mikhail Istomin: cello; Vito DiSalvo: accordian; Andy Narrell: steel pans; Dave
Samuels: vibraphone; Winard Harper, Jamey Haddad, Roy McCurdy, Terry Clarke, Portinho,
Jay Ashby: drums, percussion.
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