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

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Straight Ahead

Candid CCD 79015 




1. Straight Ahead
2. When Malindy Sings
3. In the Red
4. Blue Monk
5. Left Alone
6. African Lady
7. Retribution


Abbey Lincoln – Vocals
Max Roach – Drums
Coleman Hawkins, Walter Benton, Eric Dolphy – Saxes
Mal Waldron – Piano
Booker Little – Trumpet
Julian Priester – Trombone

Art Davis – Bass 
Recorded in 1961 in NYC. 

Apparently show business professionals had tried to turn Abbey Lincoln into a cabaret performer, instead of the jazz performer she wanted to be. This album was the time she broke free from all that, to become the out-and-out jazz performer she is known as. She has a very powerful voice and a big range, which this recording amply demonstrates. In her later recordings, she got so far away from the original songs that it was hard to recognise them, but it is not the case here. 

The all-star accompanying group affords her excellent support, I particularly liked the ‘Hawk’ of course, but Booker Little plays a very fine trumpet. There are a lot of slow tracks which does give the album a mournful feel, but I associate Mal Waldron, who wrote the arrangements, with that kind of music.  

Max Roach as usual excels in the rhythm section; he really was an exceptional drummer.

‘Retribution’ written jointly by Lincoln and trombonist Julian Priester, lifts the tempo a little and Priester solos well. 

Overall this album is just too dismal for me, but no doubt it will appeal to the Abbey Lincoln fans.

Don Mather



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