Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Ernestine Anderson's recent concert appearances have been a revelation for those who consider themselves fans of the veteran jazz singer. The latest incarnation of a singer we've been listening to for decades is even more tightly focused, delivering every song with exactly what is needed. Some critics feel that Anderson has the widest emotional range of any jazz singer in the world. Here she is partnered with tenor sax master Houston Person in a program drawn from the Great American Songbook.
JazzTimes (p.102) - "The beauty of Anderson's dusky magic is its simplicity. No big gestures, no flashy flourishes -- nothing but pure, and delightfully mature, showmanship set against superbly relaxed backing..."
Personnel: Ernestine Anderson (vocals); Houston Person (tenor saxophone); Lafayette Harris, Jr. (piano); Chip Jackson (bass instrument, bass guitar); Willie Jones III (drums).
Audio Mixer: Katherine Miller.
It is hard to believe that Ernestine Anderson was within a few months of her eightieth birthday at the time of this 2008 session, but she shows the wisdom of a veteran vocalist in her interpretations of this collection of standards, ballads, and pop songs, often proving that less is indeed more. Well complemented by tenor saxophonist Houston Person (who was an important presence on so many of the late vocalist Etta Jones' albums), pianist LaFayette Harris, bassist Chip Jackson, and drummer Willie Jones, Anderson sings with a confidence that makes each song sound like a first take. She masters the catchy midtempo setting of "Make Someone Happy," a piece often played painfully slow in order to get a sense of drama, but her upbeat treatment is a fine alternative. She knows how to sing a ballad, demonstrated in her richly textured and soulful rendition of the timeless "Skylark." She is equally at home with pop material like Leon Russell's "A Song for You" and her superb, very deliberate take of "Candy," with soulful fills inserted by Person. This is a potent effort by a singer who remains very much in her prime. ~ Ken Dryden