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Monday, December 25, 2017

CD Review: Amy London - Bridges

(Review by Lance).
More recently, Amy London's main project was, and probably still is, a Lambert, Hendricks, Ross style vocal group - the Royal Bopsters - with whom she recorded an impressive album in 2015. Downbeat gave it four and a half stars. 
Bridges is her fourth solo album although in actual fact, as the material is being released retrospectively, from a discographical point of view it is her first. I'm not sure as to why it took so long for it to be made public. It would surely have been criminal to allow these performances to fester in the vaults any longer. 
Fortunately, they were unearthed and, thanks to the restoration and remixing by Alan Douches and David Kowalski respectively, the music was saved and, with 2017 ticking away, arrived just in time to find a place on my CDs of the Year listing even though it was recorded  ± 30 years ago!
Space precludes a track by track analysis suffice to say Ms. London covers all the bases from Ross-like vocalese blasts on Love For Sale, Turrentine's Sugar or The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, to the sadness of Johnny Mandel's You Are There and the poignant poetry of Langston Hughes' Dream. 
Oscar Brown Jr's Strong Man written originally for Abbey Lincoln is given another quality work out here. The gentle swing of Harold Arlen's A Sleepin' Bee and the lowdown bluesy feel of Moanin' in the Morning add to the variety. Her own composition, This Time features Bob Mintzer blowing great tenor (does he ever do any other? Certainly not on this album!)
For me, the highlight of an album full of highlights is Oscar Pettiford's Bohemia After Dark. One of the best vocalese solos by anyone ever! Amy also contributed to the lyrics.
Devil May Care has Darman Meader blowing 'Blue Note' tenor, a fine piano solo by Peter Madsen and our singer taking the melody on an unusual, but logical, journey.
I'm in the Mood For Love/Moody's Mood For Love. Meader blows Moody type tenor before Amy goes into the Eddie Jefferson version and Meader sings a few himself.
You've Changed brings in Dr. Lonnie Smith on Hammond giving the singer some big fat chords as she emotes on Carl Fischer's dramatic tale of a fading love. Nice guitar from Jack Wilkins too.
The good doctor switches to piano for Coltrane's Naima (lyrics by Jon Hendricks) Franceschini's tenor solo retains 'Trane's mode. There's a choir (multi-tracked Amy's?) and, in truth, is perhaps the weakest track of the album but that's only because the others are so strong.
Lance.
Contact.
Amy London (vocal/percussion); 
Tks 1-8: Fred Hersch (piano/background vocals); Harvie S (bass); Victor Lewis (drums); Bob Mintzer (tenor); Cyra Baptista (percussion). March 1987.
Tks 9-13: Peter Madsen (piano); Dean Johnson (bass); Eliot Zigmund (drums); Darmon Meader (tenor/vocals); Byron Stripling (trumpet). April 1990. 
Tks 14 & 15: Dr. Lonnie Smith (piano/B3); Jack Wilkins (guitar); Harvie S (bass); Akira Tano (drums); Bobby Franceschini (tenor). June 1984.

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