Nancy WIlson - Turned To Blue

nancy wilsonSinging songs of love and benefiting a social group dear to her heart, legendary jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson’s latest recording, Turned to Blue is turning dreams into opportunity.  With a portion of profits earmarked for the youth education programs of MCG Jazz, the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (a multi-discipline, minority-directed arts center serving urban Pittsburgh), hers is a rare gift revealing exquisite lyrical interpretations, fresh arrangements and a cache of big band performances.  More precious than diamonds, Nancy Wilson’s, Turned to Blue is without a doubt, a musical treasure! 

This renowned song stylist opens with the 1940’s ballad This Is All I Ask and what more could anyone possibly ask for?  It’s all here.  This charming ensemble piece stars Wilson’s subtle voice inflections and touching vocal performance accompanied by the moving piano work of Alon Yavnai and glorious tenor sax solo by Bob Mintzer.  Be My Love highlights the incomparable Hubert Laws on flute, while the timeless I’ll Be Seeing You features the great Dr. Billy Taylor on piano plus an awe-inspiring string section.

Some of the songs on this recording call to mind Wilson’s days with Cannonball Adderley as well as, The Billy May Orchestra.  Included in the big band set is Duke Ellington’s Take Love Easy, an unbelievable interpretation featuring swingin’ solos by Sean Jones (trumpet) and Llew Matthews (piano).  It’s the way music was meant to be played and coupled with the unparalleled vocals of Wilson, it’s also the way it was meant to be heard.  You’ll fancy the knockout number, Taking a Chance on Love and the work of James Moody on tenor sax.  While fellow “Tenor Man” Andy Snitzer is showcased on the thoughtful track Old Folks.

Four originals will catch your breath including the CD’s namesake Turned to Blue, a heartrending poem written by Dr. Maya Angelou and later set to song.  The percussion, marimba and background vocals give this piece a wonderfully exotic feeling.  Then not your average song, Knitting Class, becomes a reflectively satirical number showing off the tenor sax talents of Jimmy Heath, while the poignant These Golden Years, features Tom Scott on tenor sax.  Clarinet/bass clarinet lines (Mike Tomaro) on this latter number mirror Wilson’s lower register notes beautifully and the mood is contrasted skillfully with the youthful flute/alto flute stylings of Jennifer Conner.  Then the music and lyrics of famed composer Artie Butler (Here’s to Life), are seasoned with Caribbean flavor and the steel pan stylings of Andy Narrell on I Don’t Remember Ever Growing Up.

Turned to Blue, Nancy Wilson holds nothing back.  She sings with her whole heart and absolute soul.  Every track on her very special project is fully explored, features guest solo artists, and offers a lyricism that evokes crystal-clear emotion.  Any collector of fine musical gems will want Turned to Blue in their set!

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-D.J. Fazio