108

Bending Melodies into Unorthodox Shapes

SOURCE:

Sign in to view read count
Heading into her encore at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on Tuesday night, Nnenna Freelon gave her audience the illusion of a choice. “Are you guys feeling frisky or sentimental?" she asked. Frisky, came the reply. Well, all right, then: the band struck up a light-funk groove, and Ms. Freelon plunged into one last song, parsing lyrics with syncopation. “Dreeeaam," she sang, “beside me. In-the-mid-night-glow. The lamp. Is low."

She was working with “The Lamp Is Low," a songbook standard of murmuring ardor, and the opening track of her new album, Homefree (Concord). Here as on the album it suggested a showpiece, scaled for attention-grabbing. Its message was sentimental but its delivery frisky, so that the general mood fell somewhere in between. Ms. Freelon was on firm footing there, projecting clearly, hitting her notes and her mark.

A jazz singer of unstinting vivacity, Ms. Freelon draws on some of the sturdier pillars of her craft--Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, even Lena Horne, to whom she dedicated a brief version of “Stormy Weather"--without resorting to outright emulation. (Her most transparent debt is to Vaughan, in the caprice of her phrasing; she also knows how to borrow the dryly suggestive intonation of Billie Holiday.) She has a strong, supple voice, and she controls it well, often stretching out a note and slowly intensifying its effect, adding tension or vibrato, before clipping it off at the end.

Continue Reading...

Visit Website

Post a comment

Tags

Shop Amazon

Jazz News

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.