Ballads, Blues & Bey, Evidence CD ECD-22162-2, 1996 (69:41)
Serene standards from a master jazz singer
What a model of restraint. Andy Bey can do it all as a jazz singer but on this,
the first U.S. album under his name in over twenty years, he resists the
temptation to show us everything. (Do you suppose the long lapse in recording a
talent like this is due to the fact that he is gay? Probably not - the U.S.
record industry is capable of ignoring straight talent just as thoroughly.)
Here is an intimate solo recording, in which
Bey accompanies himself on piano on some classic jazz standards. The mood
throughout is contemplative and low-key, like an after-hours set when the
drummer and horn players have already packed it in for the night.
Working with his sisters as Andy and the Bey Sisters in the late 50s and
60s, and with Pharoah Sanders, Horace Silver and Gary Bartz in the
70s and 80s, Bey usually used the full range and power of flexible
baritone. (Good luck finding any of the recordings he made with
these groups!) His voice is a wonderful sexyinstrument,
and in spite of the fact that he is now well into his fifties, it has lost none
of its captivating tone over the years. On this album, he uses both his
extraordinary falsetto and his rich baritone, moving seamlessly from one to
another to cover what sounds like well over three octaves on some songs. In
this, he may remind you of some of the great soul/gospel singers like Al Green,
but keep in mind Bey is whispering, not shouting.
You can get a pretty good idea of the nature of the album by reading the song
titles. Weve got Ellington, Gershwin, Porter, Kern and other masters on
hand. Although the album title promises both ballads and blues, the only song
here in pure blues form is Ellingtons "I Let a Song Go out of My
Heart." But the blues feel is here, especially in Beys piano
playing, where he sometimes hits a cluster to emphasize a bluesy chord.
Its the ballad singing that really makes this album special, though. Most
of the songs are taken at a slow tempo, and Bey makes the most of each note.
This is old-fashioned torch singing, not heard much nowadays. Certainly, I have
not recently heard a singer brave such an exposed album. Every
nuance of Beys soft murmuring is captured up close and personal; there is
no room for a flub. (The recording is very clear.) He clearly loves these
songs, these melodies, and caresses each one both vocally and in his tasty
piano solos. There is something special about singers who also play the piano
well enough to accompany themselves, so that the voice and piano work as one.
That magic is very evident here.
If you cant stand the idea of an album that doesnt rock (as opposed
to swing, which, even at the slow tempos, Bey does here), then you might as
well stay away. But if you appreciate, say, Billie Holiday singing sweet and
low, you will probably enjoy this jewel very much. Glenn
Andy Bey, vocals and piano.
Produced by Herb Jordan. Recorded by Carl Seltzer on May 19 and 20, 1995, at
Carl Seltzer Studios, New York City.
Someone to Watch over Me Youd Be So Nice To Come Home
To I Let a Song Go out of My Heart In a Sentimental
Mood Willow Weep for Me Yesterdays If You
Could See Me Now Im Just a Lucky So and So Day
Dream Embraceable You