Ballads, Blues and Bey CD
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All the tempos are slow, Bey's own accompaniments spare. He stretches out each tune, but his method is unique; he phrases almost independantly of the tune, but so musically and beautifully that it combines both the tension and release of the melodys all but breaking free from the harmonies, always to return, and of course the sheer expressive beauty of his voice, which is a wonder, but may not be to everyone's taste. It is an instrument, and he thinks instrumentally, unlike pop singers but like all the great jazz singers. In a serious way he is the opposite side of the coin to Betty Carter, each reworking the standard fare to discover the NEW, yet approaching from opposite directions. Cherishable.
Yet he got a second chance with this 1996 release.I found it the first year I stared running a jazz section at a Hifi shop.I was just blown away from the first song.I am so glad he got this chance when a producer saw him in a club and wondered why he wasn't being recoded.This mark his first recording in 22 years.And it is a sparse gem of just his piano and voice.It is so stripped down and personal I find it another aspect of his courage to expose himself emotionally.I know I use the words "Feeling" and "Pathos" a lot i my reviews but this album would be a great entry into a dictionary for those very words.The tunes he plays:1. Someone to Watch over Me-Gershwin, George
2. You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To - Porter, Cole
3. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart - Ellington, Duke
4. In a Sentimental Mood -Ellington, Duke
5. Willow Weep for Me - Ronell, Ann
6. Yesterdays - Harbach, Otto
7. If You Could See Me Now - Dameron, Tadd
8. I'm Just a Lucky So and So -David, Mack
9. Day Dream - Ellington, Duke
10. Embraceable You - Gershwin, George
They are all delivered with a rough hewn baritone though Bey posses a 4 octave range.Now I know that nobody wants to be stereotyped or sentimentalized so his discovery 2 years before this CD shouldn't give it import "of tragedy" that so many gave to Billie Holiday who prefer her latter period because they "here her pain".Andy might have have reason to be pissed off about the industry (and said so referring to Diana Krall In a NY Times interview saying her reception would be different if she were black.I couldn't agree more thinking she's cheesecake and coquetteish more than a equal talent to those she outsells).But one has to admire the difficulty of being a gay black man in the "macho" world of jazz (to explore that read David Hadju's book "Lush Life,about Billy Strayhorn superb jazz book and one of history and prose in itself).And I wish that everybody who has bigotry towards gays could here him and listen that when Bey sings "She" you could substitute "He" for him or any person.Love is love.It certantly is more real and worthy of recognition and acceptance than having a few ridiculous stereotype characters on television.But again if you didn't know any of this you could listen and just be in awe of his originality combined with a respect for the traditional song and just think him a great talent.I think that for me Bey is the equal of any singer of the past and I put hi among Johnny Hartman (who's good looks and talent should have made his star but his overt sensuality and racism limited him in way's a safe performer like Nat Cole was not limited).Bey had a wonderful follow up Shades Of Bey where he does a beautiful now foten cover of a Nick Drake English modern Folk tune "Riverman".And two more CD's after that. 70 I know he was still gigging last year.And I hope there are many more years.Check the You Tube Andy Bey Television Interview done with Billy Taylor.It's great.I have all his work and think of the gift we got ad try not to concentrate on the forces that kept him form greater success.Because in my mind there is nobody more successful in conveying the emotion of the Great American Songbook than Andy Bey and for that we should be thankful.
Thank you Andy