- Audio CD (6 Feb. 2012)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Disconforme
- ASIN: B006O9MDY2
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 293,831 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Straight Ahead - Abbey Lincoln CD
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The complete original Abbey Lincoln album Straight Ahead (Candid CJM8015), on which she shares the bill with such stars as Eric Dolphy, Coleman Hawkins, Booker Little, Mal Waldron, and Max Roach. An important musical work as well as an eloquent political statement, this now classic album didnít receive unanimous approval in its day, as Ira Gitler made clear in his Down Beat review (included in its entirety in our booklet), where he accused the singer of being a professional Negro . The only known alternate take from the session, as well as all existing tunes featuring Lincoln from two other dates from the same period have been added here as a bonus. Straight Ahead was Abbey Lincoln's fifth LP as a leader, following Abbey Lincoln's Affair, A Story of a Girl in Love (1956), That's Him! (1957), It's Magic (1958), and Abbey's Blue (1959). However, in many ways, Straight Ahead was her first album, as it was the first LP under her own name on which she allowed herself to feel free from all estrictions with regard to style and content. As a result, she produced an album that was not only musically important, but also poetically and politically noteworthy. Her first politically charged recordings came along with Roach slightly before the making of Straight Ahead: she sang on Roachís landmark 1960s jazz civil rights recording, We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (1960). After this album, Abbey Lincoln became even more deeply connected to the political fight against racism in the United States.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In the '50s Abbey had the breath control, phrasing, flexibility along with her trademark inflections and vocal power to do much the same for songs that some listeners apparently dismiss on political, not musical, grounds. Of course, it didn't hurt that she was assisted by the arranging skills and solo contributions of some of the best in the business, from Marty Paich and Jack Montrose to Sonny Rollins, Kenny Dorham, and Coleman Hawkins. But for those who would still prefer to pass up the "standards" in favor of new and original songs by the performer, "Straight Ahead" (an album title used by many distinguished jazz artists) should satisfy. Most of the tunes are Lincoln originals, or melodies like Monk's "Blue Monk" for which Abbey has provided lyrics.
Ironically, the title tune has more of a meandering than a "straight ahead" melodic quality, and though Abbey is in strong voice, one occasionally wishes the music had a bit more harmonic and melodic interest along with rhythmic drive. Nevertheless, just as interest begins to lessen, there's another gem of a solo by the "father of the tenor saxophone." It's easy to overlook Hawkins' soulful, inventive rhetoric on the tenor saxophone at this late date, but he's a potent force on each of the recordings that he made with Abbey (and with Abbey and Max on "Freedom Now Suite"). The most recorded popular standard of all time--"Body and Soul"--owes much of its later popularity and influence not to Sinatra's or any other vocalist's interpretation but to the all-but-perfect solo by Hawkins from 1939. And Hawkins demonstrates on many successive recordings, including "Straight Ahead," that he continued to be a force to be reckoned with long after. (Give Max Roach credit for recognizing the value of this pre-Bird giant of American music.) Hawkins' sound on the instrument--bold, stout, preaching, filled to the brim with unadulterated passion--is arguably a better complement to Abbey's own sound than is the very different (but admittedly no less distinctive) sound of Stan Getz' saxophone (heard on the much later "You Gotta Pay the Band"). At the very least, download the title song and "Blue Monk," but pay at least as much close attention to Coleman Hawkins' solos as to Abbey's readings.