Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Listen to Samples
Warm but Bracing Double Punch
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 04/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're new to Etta, start with "Don't Go to Strangers" or "Love Shout" before taking on this one. Etta was one of the most gifted singers of the past half century, the most direct descendant of Billie Holiday. And on this date she was clearly acknowledging Lady Day's late session with strings ("Lady in Satin") and perhaps Dinah Washington's ("What a Difference a Day Makes") as well. But despite the similarities, "So Warm" bears a striking difference from either Billie's or Dinah's syrupy string sessions. That difference is Oliver Nelson.Here the brilliant saxophonist and composer-arranger presents a rare, and his first, orchestration with strings--as well as flutes, double-reeds, and french horns. It's a stunner, admittedly unpolished at times but of the same quality one would expect of a young Leonard Bernstein arranging art songs for Beverly Sills. It takes several listens to really "hear" the beauty and excitement of this music--first, the absolute assurance and unabashed emotion of Etta's voice; second, the equally and ceaselessly engaging "counter-voice" provided by Nelson's arrangements; finally, an appreciation of the songs themselves, interpreted in a way that magnifies their aesthetic tensions and appeals equally to heart and mind.Highlights are many. Trust Oliver to surprise and Etta to respond with passion and grace. Her petition, "Please give my heart another break," on "Hurry Home" is delivered with such forbearance and urgency as to break hearts. Both Loesser's "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" and the rare chestnut "You Better Go Now" are rich, delectable custards, requiring but a single chorus to satisfy the listener's palette. Nelson's melodrama combines with Etta's sexy, soulful reading to make "And This Is My Beloved" a singular experience somewhere between grand opera and saloon singing. Johnny Mercer's "If You Were Mine" is a glowing, personal love whisper that explodes into a shout of surrender. On "How Deep Is the Ocean" the double stops of the cellos take us into the subterranean depths before Etta's unsinkable bouyancy prevails.Recording an ensemble such as this clearly was not engineer Rudy Van Gelder's strength, and the re-mastering leaves much to be desired, occasionally separating Etta's voice too far from the mix and even distorting it. We can only hope that consumer demand is sufficient to warrant another edition. This album may be a sleeper but it's the princess' crowning jewel. Sinatra fans who have "graduated" to his neglected masterpiece, "Close to You," will understand completely."