The Lady Can Sing A Song
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is old time jazz at its FINEST and BEST. Cleo is one CLASSY LADY who can sing that HOT JAZZ and the COOL BLUES."
Title says it all
Sasha | at sea...sailing somewhere | 04/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the Autumn of her career Cleo Laine recorded some of the finest albums in her rich discography - "Jazz","Blue and sentimental" and "Solitude" were such a top class trilogy,filled with quality songs,careful arrangements, and interesting guest musicians that in my personal opinion this was her peak as interpretor of jazz standards.
Sure,Laine sang jazz from the start,even in early 1950s and it was fun to follow the adventures and hear that voice going trough different phases,tackling various music genres,hitting those unbelievably high notes that she was famous for,scatting and following Ella's footsteps where only rare & brave artists dared to go.
Unfortunately there were also some lackluster MOR albums in 1970s and seems the whole world knows about them,easy-listening albums that forever live in second-hand bins and attack the careless listener - while she experimented with easy-listening music,Laine unfortunately alienated at least a portion of jazz purists who loved her long ago and with this trilogy she goes back home.
Everything here is first-class: Johnny Dankworth arrangements surround lady like the best stage light,musicians sound inspired and the best of all,Cleo Laine really acts these songs the way she was never able when younger - there is a whole lifetime of experience behind her now and gone is show-off who was hitting high C just because she could.
At this stage,Laine is mostly subdued and as the title says,"Blue and sentimental" (it's an old Count Basie song,by the way) - songs are sung from point of view of someone who has seen it all but still occasionally succumbs to love.There is excellent,really stunning opener "The lies of handsome man" where she sings how "somewhere in the corner of my mind/I'm not a fool/completely blind" but she lets herself being led by new flame. There is also Duke Ellington's "Creole love call" with new lyrics by Lorraine Feather and it was originaly done by Adelaide Hall in 1920s - Adelaide Hall was sort of Laine's preccessor as black entertainer in 1920s UK.
The other face of sentimental lady is her passionate down-to-earth sass - accumulated with age,young Laine of 1950s was too proper for that - in Bessie Smith own "Soft pedal bues" Laine is having fun as owner of party-flat.
Joe Williams visits as heart-broken duet partner in "What'll I Do" and his sincere,subdued acting perfectly compliments Laine's singing - they are not young Romeo and Juliet but husband and wife who decided to divorce after years of trying and it's just not working,you can almost hear hearts breaking - dream has ended - the way its sung here,its not just breaking the long relationship but very possibly too late for any others,complete and utter sadness because its simply too late in life and chances have passed.
Very melancholic and singing is divine."