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Abbey Lincoln-"Throw It Away"

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By Steve Provizer

I've been a real intellectual yente for the last several posts. I hope those posts have not been without emotional weight, but the death of Abbey Lincoln makes me want to write a piece where emotion leads and analysis creeps along far behind.

In the late 1960's, I went to the old WGBH studios to see her then-husband Max Roach record a TV show. I didn't think twice about the fact that she was also performing.

I was dazzled initially by her looks, but her voice was much more charismatic than I expected, given the recordings I'd heard. The voice was cloudy, but not smoky; carrying some vibratto, but not a heavy load. Sometimes the edges were sharp, sometimes rounded. She gave songs character and obviously chose material that could handle that investment.

Soon after, she went into a period of seclusion, and re-emerged in the 1990's. Then, in 1995, she released the lp “Turtles' Dream." On that album was a song called “Throw It Away" which caught me completely off guard and which remains sui generis in my life. You've heard me say that concerts have made me scream. Movies can sometimes bring a tear, but I never cry to music; except for that damn song.

Incredibly, 15 years later, it still has the power to evoke the same intense reaction. Most of the time, I actually try to avoid it, because if I hear it, the rest of the day becomes mere prelude or postlude. On the other hand, when something intense is happening in my life, and I can't get to the emotional root, I seek it out. It burns away the bullshit.

You can find the song here and the lyrics here.

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This story appears courtesy of Brilliant Corners, a Boston Jazz Blog.
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