4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
No one can deny Etta James's legendary status as a queen of the blues, and here, in this 1995 recording, she still wails with the best. Surrounded by extraordinary musicians--especially the brilliant Cedar Walton on piano and Eddie Harris and Herman Riley on tenor sax--she turns standards into big, bold, assertive statements, capitalizing on her lower register (much lower than when she was younger). Full of passion, she proclaims her songs, as much as she sings them, using volume and her somewhat harsh voice, instead of sweetness and subtlety, to convey her messages.
"Don't Go to Strangers" is her joke. Often confused with Etta Jones, she begins the CD with Jones's most famous song, giving it her own style and interpretation. Jo Stafford would never recognize what James does with "Teach Me Tonight," an R & B treatment that features one of Eddie Harris's great sax solos. "Fool That I Am," one of her best songs, includes an unusual accompaniment, almost completely limited to the flugelhorn of Ronnie Buttacavoli and guitar of Josh Sklair, who have terrific solos, and one can hear Etta in the background offering them encouragement.
The best song on the CD is "Willow Weep for Me," a stunning song which she begins a capella and sings as if she were one of the originators of old-time blues. Here she keeps the tempo slow, letting out all her emotion in pure blues style, the accompaniment kept simple and very much in the background.
With jazz and the blues embedded deep in her soul, James is still a fine interpreter, and the musicians with whom she surrounds herself are top notch. Her voice, now very deep and dark, is still fine in the middle and upper ranges. Unfortunately, she sometimes misses notes in the lower range (particularly noticeable on "Time After Time" and "My Funny Valentine"), especially when she tries to sing the lowest notes quietly, rather than at full volume, and she often slides up and down to hit her notes. Because of this, newcomers to this lady and long-time fans might prefer to look for some of the new releases of her earlier work, such as "At Last," a remastered version of her 1960 debut. Mary Whipple
After a couple of numbers I was hooked! The singing has such ‘feel’ to it and the music and vocals sound live - like in a little club somewhere, where the sound just envelops you and you just know it’s a top night and one that won’t be forgotten easily!
The band is superb, with many brilliant little solos. Etta warbles with great emotion, she doesn’t need to break into overdrive, her renditions of the ‘Great American Songbook’ are right up there with the likes of Ella and Frank! Someone on here said that this was one of her best albums and I can see exactly why they would say that.