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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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ETTA JONES

The Way We Were

HighNote HCD 7197

 

 


1. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
2. The Way We Were
3. Deed I Do
4. Please Send Me Someone To Love
5. Fine And Mellow
6. Oh, Lady Be Good
7. Somewhere In My Lifetime
8. I Could Have Danced All Night
9. What A Wonderful World
10. Ma, He's Makin' 'Eyes At Me
11. Don't Go To Strangers
12. I'll Be Seeing You

Etta Jones - Vocals (tracks 5-12)
Houston Person - Tenor sax
Stan Hope - Piano
George Kaye - Bass
Chip White - Drums

 

Etta Jones and Houston Person are both artists who undoubtedly have that elusive ingredient - soul. Put them together and the result is bound to be soulful as well as pleasurable. I have already filled in their backgrounds in a previous review. This album was recorded at the Tri-C Jazz Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2000 - the year before Etta died.

In fact Etta doesn't appear on the first four tracks, which are devoted to some lively jazz from a quartet led by tenorist Houston Person, who is equally thrilling in up-tempo numbers and in ballads. The easy lope of Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me is followed by the tender The Way We Were, in which Houston's playing tugs at the heart-strings. Stan Hope adds thoughtful piano solos. Deed I Do raises the tempo and Houston solos as if he's trying to beat the speed limit. Drummer Chip White seizes the opportunity for several rousing choruses. Slowing the tempo again, Houston displays his indisputable blues credentials in Please Send Me Someone To Love.

Etta Jones has often been compared to Billie Holiday, and she opens her set with Fine and Mellow, a song eternally associated with Billie. As was her wont, Etta takes greater liberties with the song than Billie did, although towards the end she does an imitation of the Holiday style. Etta's voice soars and swoops on Oh, Lady be Good, which proves that she is a real jazz singer, improvising with astonishing freedom. And it shows what a perfect musical partner Houston Person was for her, following her every move with sympathetic comments.

I Could Have Danced All Night is completely joyful, and Etta even rescues What a Wonderful World from the perils of sentimentality by taking jazzy liberties with it. Few people sing Ma, He's Making Eyes At Me nowadays as it has touches of vaudeville but Etta and Houston just have fun with it. Etta's 1960 hit Don't Go To Strangers is delivered with warm sincerity. The concert ends with a good-natured I'll Be Seeing You.

Buy this album.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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