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American Song by Andy Bey

Andy Bey is possibly best known for his work with Horace Silver, or perhaps simply for being under recorded. He enjoys a sterling reputation among musicians and critics, yet is not so well known by the record buying public. American Song is the latest attempt to rectify that unfortunate situation, a collection of time-proven classics sung by a master in his sixth decade of making jazz. There are lot of discs on the market right now exploring the American Songbook and you may not think you need new versions of songs like "Prelude to a Kiss" and "Angel Eyes"; if so, this album will surely put that proposition to the test.

Bey sings and plays piano throughout the album, aided on the latter instrument by Geri Allen, who plays on "Midnight Sun" & "Lush Life" and also provides all of the horn arrangements on the CD. One of the songs covered here is Ogden Nash & Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," and it provides a perfect description of Bey's vocal approach. His voice is deep and rich and he often delivers the lyrics conversationally in an intimate whisper, though he can and does belt out the words when the tune calls for it. Bey's a canny pianist as well; I like the minimalism of his soloing. Allen is her usual brilliant self in her turns, and her arrangements breathe new life into songs like "Midnight Sun."

There is quite a bit of Ellingtonia here: "Prelude" and "Lush Life" are joined by versions of "Caravan" and "Satin Doll." The band here is actually fairly large, but sounds small in a good (i.e, intimate) sense. Frank Wess and Dwight Andrews provide excellent tone on saxophones and flute, and Paul Meyer's guitar sparkles throughout.

American Song is a welcome release and an essential document for any collection of jazz vocals. Andy Bey's voice is a rich, mellow baritone that has only ripened with age. The band supports him quite ably, with Geri Allen leading the way with her smart arrangements and stark playing.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Andy Bey
  • CD Title: American Song
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Savoy Jazz
  • Tracks: 1. Never Let Me Go, 2. Prelude To A Kiss, 3. Speak Low, 4. Angel Eyes, 5. Midnight Sun, 6. Caravan, 7. Lush Life, 8. Satin Doll, 9. Paper Moon, 10. Lonely Town.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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