Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Tales of Wonder
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Stevie Wonder is the Gershwin of our era, and jazz musicians have been performing his tunes for years. His harmonically complex compositions are an improviser's dream. Here, the deliciously feline vocalist Nnenna Freelon i... more »
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Stevie Wonder is the Gershwin of our era, and jazz musicians have been performing his tunes for years. His harmonically complex compositions are an improviser's dream. Here, the deliciously feline vocalist Nnenna Freelon interprets some well-known and lesser-known Wonder songs with excellent taste and mature ingenuity. She does not radically alter Wonder's harmonies, but her ebullient phrasing and changes of tempo and mood extend and elaborate Wonder's music into interesting and inventive directions. Supported by a good combo featuring Dave Samuels on vibraphone and marimba, bassist Gerald Beasley, and guitarist Chuck Loeb, Freelon and her cohorts add some Brazilian tinges, light funk, and straight-ahead and jazz-fusion contours to compositions such as "Overjoyed," "My Cherie Amour," and "Superstition." As this loving tribute shows, Freelon does not merely sing a lyric--she embraces it. That rare ability puts her far ahead of the pack and does the music of Stevie Wonder justice. --Eugene Holley Jr.
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See her live and be awed.
chasmusic | Ottawa, Ontario Canada | 07/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am surprised at the lukewarm reviews of this CD. Granted, I will likely be biased since I just saw this lady perform last night at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. I was totally captivated by this energetic, very personable and talented vocalist. If you are looking for a straight ahead jazz vocalist singing yet another variation on the old standards you won't find it here. Stevie Wonder wrote some great music and in the 70's he was king. I have always loved the ballad Lately, and in Ms. Freelon's hands she captures the sweet and vunerable emotions perfectly. In Superstition and Until You Come Back to Me, she lays it on over a funky, soulful groove. She is a singer in the soul-jazz vein, pushing the jazz envelope. She is introducing the new standards by composers like Stevie Wonder and Bacharach/David. The rhythms are funky and soulful. She remains true to the melody, but gets inside the lyrics and gives it a fresh interpretation. From what I have read about her she started out as a Sarah Vaughan clone, but has steadily grown and found her own voice. I like performers who take chances and push the boundaries. Any art form has to grow to survive, and it will be innovators like her that keep jazz alive."
ATruly Wonderful Tale
EffyB | East Orange, New Jersey (USA) | 07/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a rare and precious jewel Ms. Freelon is. When you find a singer like her it is cause for celebration. Her voice is rich and smooth as "sweet molasses" -- it just pours over you ever so slowly. Ms. Freelon's commanding style of singing draws you into the song and wraps it around you ever so nicely.Over the years Stevie Wonder has overwhemlmed and inspired us with his music - Ms. Freelon pays a thrilling tribute to him -- she puts a whole new perspective to his lyrics. Recently while perusing the music section, all I heard her sing was "over time, I've been building a castle of love" and I knew I needed not listen any further. I immediately took off the headphones and proceeded to the checkout counter to purchase this CD; knowing that it would the gem that it is.Of course she is surrounded by a group of ubelievably great musicians who enhance her voice so beautifully. "Overjoyed" did it for me, then you can actually see and feel the tears on "Tears of a Clown", "All In Love Is Fair" - artfully done, "Bird of Beauty" - a real toe tapper, "Lately" - what can I say, and if you can believe it there's even more.Can anyone say "let me hear that again" :)Rush right out and get this CD - you will be very glad you did."
So Much Potential...
A. Davis | Greenville, SC | 07/09/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"When I first heard that Nnenna was recording a disc of Stevie Wonder's music I was very excited about the possibilities. I have been blessed to have seen Mrs. Freelon perform live in a small-room setting and she set the place on fire. This recording misses the mark on several fronts. First, the songs are flat. Stevie's originals are vibrant and soulful. This recording is missing something. The Jazz elements of Nnenna's beautiful past recordings are absent - using instead a more pop approach to the music. I miss the twists and turns that Nnenna usually injects when she records other artists music. Stevie's songs are so rich in both composition and melody that I thought a superior vocalist like Feelon would shape these beautiful gems into personal magic. I also expected to hear a more percussion driven band than what we have here. During her live shows, Nnenna connects with the drum. Her vocal talents are not well utilized here. Hopefully this is just a pause into pop-land and the next effort will follow in the footsteps of last years excellent "Soul Call." Her previous recordings are far superior to this one."