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Roots - My Life, My Song

Audio Samples

>Traditional : African Drum Invocation
>Gabriel, Charles Hutchison : 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
>     Habanera
>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

Album Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

>Bernstein, Leonard : West Side Story
  • Performers: Jessye Norman; Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Steve Johns (Drums); Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone)
  • 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: Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Steve Johns (Drums); Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 3 min. 22 sec.
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Arlen, Harold : Stormy Weather
  • Performers: Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Steve Johns (Drums); Mark Markham (Piano); Jessye Norman; Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone)
  • 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: Jessye Norman; Steve Johns (Drums); Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet)
  • 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: Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Jessye Norman; Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Steve Johns (Drums)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 34 sec.
  • Studio/Live: Live

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

>Traditional : God's Gonna Cut You Down, song
  • Performers: Jessye Norman; Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Steve Johns (Drums); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone)
  • 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: Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Mark Markham (Piano); Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Jessye Norman; Steve Johns (Drums)
  • 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: Steve Johns (Drums); Jessye Norman; Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Ira Coleman (Double Bass)
  • 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: Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Mark Markham (Piano); Steve Johns (Drums); Jessye Norman; Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet)
  • 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); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Jessye Norman
  • Running Time: 5 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1873-1874
  • Studio/Live: Live

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

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

>Ellington, Duke : Solitude
  • Performers: Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Jessye Norman; Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Steve Johns (Drums); Mark Markham (Piano); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet)
  • 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: Jessye Norman; Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Clarinet); Martin Williams [Sax/Clarinet] (Saxophone); Mike Lovatt (Trumpet); Ira Coleman (Double Bass); Mark Markham (Piano); Steve Johns (Drums)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Studio/Live: Live

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

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