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Roots - My Life, My Song

Album Summary

>Traditional : African Drum Invocation
>Gabriel, Charles : His Eye Is on the Sparrow
>Anonymous : I Want Two Wings
>Traditional Spiritual : I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray, spiritual
>Traditional Spiritual : Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
>Ellington, Duke : Heaven
>Bernstein, Leonard : West Side Story
>Kahn, Gus / Donaldson, Wa : My baby just cares for me, song
>Arlen, Harold : Stormy Weather
>Weill, Kurt : Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (The Ballad of Mack the Knife), song for voice & piano (from "Die Drei
>Jr., Charles Kingsford : Another Man Done Gone, for voice & piano (Chain Gang Song)
>Traditional, American : All the Pretty Little Horses, folk song
>Traditional : God's Gonna Cut You Down, song
>Poulenc, Francis : Les chemins de l'amour ("Les chemins qui vont"), for voice & piano (or orchestra), FP 106
>Scotto, Vincent : J'ai deux amours 'mon pays et Paris'
>Duke, Vernon : April in Paris, song (for the revue Walk A Little Faster)
>Bizet, Georges : Carmen, opera
>Strayhorn, Billy : Take the 'A' Train
>Monk, Thelonious : Blue Monk
>Ellington, Duke : Solitude
>Ellington, Duke : It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing)
>Ellington, Duke : Don't Get Around Much Anymore
>Traditional, American : When the Saints Go Marching In
Performers Composers
Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Philharmonie Berlin.

A sticker included on at least some versions of this Sony Classical release promises "music from Berlioz to Ellington," which would make it a pretty common type of classical vocal recital that includes a dash of jazz. That's not what's happening here at all, and there isn't even any Berlioz included. There is the "Habanera" of Georges Bizet, but that's given a tango-jazz treatment, and otherwise the only work from the European concert tradition is Poulenc's Les chemins de l'amour, a piece heavily influenced by popular song. This is not a souvenir or survey of Jessye Norman's career, but is instead oriented toward the roots mentioned on the cover. And, as such, it's quite an accomplishment. The two-disc program can be roughly divided into four overlapping and interpenetrating sections: spirituals, pop, French song, and jazz, with an introduction of African drumming. That's unusual enough as it is, but what really makes news here are the completely original treatments in each of the main categories. No information is included as to how the album took shape; some of it is apparently taken from live concerts in Munich and Frankfurt, Germany. Norman is accompanied by a small combo that serves the non-jazz as well as the jazz pieces. Even standards like "Stormy Weather" and "Mack the Knife" are given free, quiet, highly personal treatments, and there's very little "operatic" singing in evidence even in the spirituals, which could stand up to it. You might think of the entire collection as a jazz performance, based on its sense of individualistic departure from preexisting models, or as a uniquely personal rumination on a great singer's deep roots. The cumulative effect of the program is quite powerful, and Norman deserves a great deal of credit for taking chances with a project she could easily just have phoned in.~James Manheim



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Works Details

>Traditional : African Drum Invocation
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 2 min. 25 sec.
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Gabriel, Charles : His Eye Is on the Sparrow
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 1 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Anonymous : I Want Two Wings
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 2 min. 25 sec.
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Traditional Spiritual : I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray, spiritual
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 3 min. 20 sec.
  • Written: by 1865
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Traditional Spiritual : Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 4 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: by 1865
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Ellington, Duke : Heaven
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 3 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Bernstein, Leonard : West Side Story
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 1 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1957
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Kahn, Gus / Donaldson, Wa : My baby just cares for me, song
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 3 min. 22 sec.
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Arlen, Harold : Stormy Weather
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 5 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1933
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Weill, Kurt : Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (The Ballad of Mack the Knife), song for voice & piano (from "Die Drei
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 6 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 05/1928-08/1928
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Jr., Charles Kingsford : Another Man Done Gone, for voice & piano (Chain Gang Song)
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 4 min. 34 sec.
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Traditional, American : All the Pretty Little Horses, folk song
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 5 min. 7 sec.
  • Form: Vocal
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Traditional : God's Gonna Cut You Down, song
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 4 min. 56 sec.
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Poulenc, Francis : Les chemins de l'amour ("Les chemins qui vont"), for voice & piano (or orchestra), FP 106
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 6 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 1940
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Scotto, Vincent : J'ai deux amours 'mon pays et Paris'
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 4 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Duke, Vernon : April in Paris, song (for the revue Walk A Little Faster)
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 4 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: circa 1942
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Bizet, Georges : Carmen, opera :: Habanera
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 5 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1873-1874
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Strayhorn, Billy : Take the 'A' Train
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 3 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1941
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Monk, Thelonious : Blue Monk
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 5 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Ellington, Duke : Solitude
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 4 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1933
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Ellington, Duke : It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing)
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 6 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Ellington, Duke : Don't Get Around Much Anymore
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 2 min. 41 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Traditional, American : When the Saints Go Marching In
  • Performers: Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Steve Johns (Drums); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 5 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: by 1900
  • Studio/Live: Live