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Shaking Free
Nnenna Freelon
Shaking Free
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
 
Freelon isn't much of a lyricist (a typically stiff couplet is "We have come to find/ Intimate connection of heart and mind"), but she has a sure instinct for the way melody flows. Her soprano isn't overpowering, but it ...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Nnenna Freelon
Title: Shaking Free
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Concord Records
Release Date: 10/21/2003
Album Type: Hybrid SACD - DSD
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Vocal Jazz, Vocal Pop, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 013431101260

Synopsis

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Freelon isn't much of a lyricist (a typically stiff couplet is "We have come to find/ Intimate connection of heart and mind"), but she has a sure instinct for the way melody flows. Her soprano isn't overpowering, but it is extremely graceful and thus perfectly fits the easy-going songs she writes and chooses. Her road band of pianist/arranger Bill Anschell, bassist John Brown and drummer Woody Williams are also well attuned to this approach; after two-plus years together, the four musicians seem to glide as one. The album does include standards by Harold Arlen, Jimmy Van Heusen and the like, but the highlights are a leisurely treatment of Dizzy Gillespie's "Birk's Works" and a dreamy version of the old folk tune "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair." --Geoffrey Himes

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CD Reviews

Fresh sound.
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 09/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If there were a rating between 3 and 4, that would more accurately reflect my response to this CD. Nnennon brings a fresh sound and approach to much familiar material on this album, which includes stellar support from the rhythm section and horn players. Her voice takes some getting used to, as its devoid of the smoky sensuality and relaxed seductive qualities characteristic of many of her peers. In many respects, it's an androgynous instrument, possessing a pure, clear, incisive "boyish" quality. Initially, it left me cold, but repeated listenings have made its charms more apparent. In some respects, Rickey Woodard's "Webster-tinged" tenor sax sound is the wrong complement to her voice. An alto sax sound, preferably with some of the purity of a Paul Desmond or Art Pepper, would have made for an ideal pairing.Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I find Nnenna's energetic, enthusiastic, unself-conscious approach to the music to be a refreshing alternative to the theatrical style, cultivated persona, calculated programming of Cassandra Wilson, jazz' current, much-hyped diva. Jazz is as much a tradition as a style, and any singer who doesn't significantly reflect the legacy of Billie, Ella and Sarah represents more a departure than an innovation in the music's development."
Sensational!
Rick Cornell | Reno, Nv USA | 11/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While listening to this c.d., I was struck by this thought: Many jazz singers emulate Billie Holiday, and sing slightly behind the beat. Some (though less) emulate Anita O'Day and sing slightly ahead of the beat. Nnenna Freelon doesn't do either: She is rock solid on the beat. Between that and her strong straight-toned voice, she sounds like a female Sammy Davis (in timbre and delivery, though certainly not in style). She's sensational, babe.

On this set, she swings like mad. I don't think I've ever heard "Nature Boy" swung as hard as she swings it here. And "Out of This World" starts as a modal-sounding, 5/4 romp (Reminiscent of "All Blues". Johnny Mercer meets Miles Davis!), before settling into a hard-boppin' four. Dizzy's "Birks Works", done in all scat, likewise will have your hands and feet pounding to the beat. Ditto the old folk song, "Black (Is the Color of my True Love's hair)", with an Egyptian-type of groove. Even "I Thought About You", begun as a free a capella vocalization, settles into a "hard four."

That's not to say that Ms. Freelon can't balladize. She most certainly can, as witnessed by "My Shining Hour", and a wonderful set-ender, "Blue Daughter". I particularly enjoyed her take on Duke's "What Am I Here For", with quotes from "Mood Indigo" and "In My Solitude" thrown in for good measure.

But cooking uptunes is what she does best, and with her sure sense of rhythm, she does such songs sensationally. Highly recommended. RC"