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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



Portrait of a Lady

Sketches of Billie Holiday

Concord Jazz CCD-2289-2





  1. I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
  2. What a Little Moonlight Will do
  3. Don’t Explain
  4. God Bless the Child
  5. Strange fruit
  6. Willow Weep for Me
  7. Balm in Gilead
  8. Them There Eyes
  9. Only You Will Know
  10. You’ve Changed
  11. Now or Never
  12. 12. Lover Man
  13. 13.Left Alone
  14. 14. Interlude – Little Brown Bird
  15. 15. All of Me.

Nnenna Freeton – Vocals
Brandon McCune – Keyboards
Wayne Batchelor – Bass
Kinah Boto – Percussion
Christian Scott – Trumpet
Mary Fettig – Saxes
Dave Ellis - Tenor
Doug Lawrence – Tenor
Julian Lage – Guitar
Andre Bush – Guitar
Jessica Ivry - Cello

It never ceases to amaze me what very talented singers and musicians do to the great songbook of American tunes. None of these tracks is any improvement on the Billie Holiday originals.

Billie had a tragic life; it started when a neighbour raped her at the age of eleven. She had a series of men in her life, of which few really cared for her and her career was blighted by drug addiction, but she could still deliver happy and joyful in her performances as well as tragic and dismal. Ms Freelon even manages to turn Them There Eyes into a tragedy. I am also old enough to think that jazz is supposed to swing, someone seems to have changed all that! Doug Lawrence plays some nice tenor on You’ve Changed. One track that really swings is Now or Never and this time with some fine tenor from Dave Ellis.

When you hear how well Nneena Freelon performs when she is not being so clever on tracks like Now or Never, you can only wish she did more of it, she has a great voice. Nneena is a great singer, but she let’s the dramatics outdo the jazz. I am sure that when she gets through the clever phase she will become one of Jazz’s great treasures.

Don Mather


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