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Straight Ahead - Abbey Lincoln CD

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Product Description

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No cute sexy music anymore 1 Sept. 2007
By Alain Robert - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Just take a look who's playing here : Booker Little, Eric Dolphy, Mal Waldron, Coleman Hawkins and Mr. Max Roach and more: and Monk liked the way she sang "blue monk". A great album.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abbey and Hawk Make Memorable Musical Conversation 15 Sept. 2010
By Sam Chell - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It's perplexing to read the numerous accounts characterizing Abbey's early work as derivative and lightweight, apparently because the material is frequently drawn from that "classic" body of work (by Berlin, Gershwin, Porter, Ellington, etc.) that has come to be known as the "Great American Songbook." A truly "original" artist is one who can take familiar material and make it fresh, vibrant and alive. In the 1950s Sinatra made his storied comeback by going back some 30 years to the "old songs" but singing them in a manner that made you believe every word, enabling you to hear these fast-fading Broadway tunes as personal, "felt" experience. In fact, the very survival and inclusion of many of the songs in the Songbook can be traced to Sinatra's definitive interpretations of them.

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.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hangin' on from year to year... 12 Oct. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is widely recognized as Abbey's finest album, and I'm happy to see its back in print again. Not long after this recording her musical career was put on hiatus--apparantly no one would touch her in those troubling political times--a crying shame, as it means more albums of this caliber were not to be. (Her later recordings do hold up surprisingly well, however, quite "smoky" still, as my friend put it.) A stunning, powerful album with gutsy vocals that indict the many injustices of the day [and are still relevant]. Impressive back-up band includes Coleman Hawkins, Julian Priester, Booker Little, Max Roach. A Thelonious Monk cover with some fun lyrics. "Malindy" is the obvious classic; "Straight Ahead" and "African Lady" are two of my other favorites. A long way to go for a former supper-club singer... Maybe they'll reissue her album with then-husband Max Roach, "Freedom Now! Suite"...
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mother Lode for this Wonderful Artist 20 Jan. 2004
By Rick Cornell - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It has been 30 years since I listened to this on vinyl. I still consider it to be one of this artist's best. Her interpretations of "Blue Monk" and "When Malindy Sings" simply are unforgettable, and "African Lady" demonstrates her very strong tie to the third world. Ms. Lincoln to me is second-generation Billie Holiday. She doesn't have the widest range or the purest voice, to be sure, but what she has is the biggest heart. She comes to the table and brings it with everything she has, and in the process, creates something original. Buy this one, then one of her early '90's classics, such as "The World Is Falling Down" or "You Gotta Pay the Band", and prepare to be mesmerized.
5.0 out of 5 stars About 7 1/2 stars, if you get my drift ... 18 July 2015
By gloworm - Published on
Format: Audio CD
About 7 1/2 stars, if you get my drift. I first heard this record around 1969. Trust me: this is a MONSTROUS jazz platter!!!!
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