Afternoon Listening

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Nancy Wilson stole my heart at the tender age of 14 -- so when I first started thinking about girls, I started thinking about her --since she was on the radio (WNOP in Cincinnati) ALL the time.

The affair continued in the mid-eighties - when I actually got to meet her -- in elevator after a concert at a hotel -- where I confessed my undying love to this (by now) aging, gray-haired , distiguished lady.

My favorite recordings are the Capitol years -- like the one with Cannonball
Adderley -- where she sings Jazz -- so I never got around to listening to her later Columbia years.

But today -- I put on this 1994 recording -- and went to heaven -- as she throws that clear, deep voice out into space --- and then tugs it back-- along with my heart.

The thing about this album - is that it's --- gasp! --- adult contemporary -- with orchestra --strings --- echo chamber -- and (mostly) forgettable songs -- that only serve as an excuse to hear her manipulate her voice.

That's OK -- I love it anyway -- and while I was playing it -- a customer came to the counter with a big smile on his face -- telling me he was also a fan of Nancy from way back (he's in his sixties now) -- and when he was a teenager - he taped her record album cover to the ceiling above his bed. (a rather provocative place in the bedroom of a teenage boy)

I never went that far --- but when I was a teenager -- Nancy certainly did
provide my role model for adult romance.

Love --- Nancy ---- indeed !

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Just got in this incredible June Christy album from 1960 -- actually the above import is two-albums-on-one-disc --- but I never got around to hearing the second album because one of my regular customers bought it before it could finish playing.

"Cool School" is a killer rendition of Hollywood children's songs -- lot of Walt Disney stuff -- like "Give a little Whistle" or "When you wish upon a star" -- not really anyone's idea of great jazz standards -- but she sings them so honest,pure, straight but playful -- and so -- so -- coooool --- I guess it re-awoke my 2nd grade crush on my cute 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Baumberger. This was an album that made time-stand-still.

My customer said that he had always liked June Christy -- but not most of her albums -- and we agreed -- whole-heartedly - that this one was memorable.

I first discovered this Afro-German singer about 3 years ago -- the album was
"Out of this Mood" -- and the songs were "Afro Blue" and "If I were a bell"
(at least -- those are the songs I still remember). I recall reading one reviewer who doubted that she understood English - and was just singing phonetically -- which might be the case -- whatever -- her strange pronounciation worked for me -- and the group of German players who accompanied her was very, very tight.

She has a strong, deep voice --- she gets underneath a song -- and I believe everything she's saying.

But her next album, "Shades of Delight" was a big disappointment -- because she now sounds more sophisticated -- and more like thousands of other lounge singers.

And now -- today --- and I heard her most recent album, "Love and Then" -- where she has abandoned the songbook of American standards -- and plunged entirely into orginals -- written by people she knows.

Ouch ! The problem is --- she's still a great singer -- but -- if this were a Baroque opera -- it would be one that only had recitatif --- no engaging melody -- just elegant speaking.

Maybe she thinks her audience has bought enough albums of standards (Rod Stewart has made three of them now) --- but me --- a good song is a good song -- and I can never hear enough of it. (as long as it's done well)