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Bebop Spoken There

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

CD Review: Amber Weekes – Pure Imagination

(Review by Ann Alex)

Amber Weekes hails from Los Angeles. Her grandparents lived in Harlem and they ran a cafe which was frequented by the likes of Duke Ellington, Diahann Carroll, and Billy Strayhorn. She sang from being a child and went on to study voice (with no less a legend than Sue Rainey who also joins Amber on the title track) and has performed at many of Los Angeles's top clubs as well as at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.

This fine album includes recognised jazz standards alongside songs by Anthony Newley, Barry Manilow, and Paul Simon but I was most delighted to discover songs by a writer who, I’m ashamed to admit, is new to me, Oscar Brown Jr.  Such great songs, why did I not know about these songs years ago?

The Snake is a sinuous, slinky song about a woman who took a snake home but it bit her when she tried to be friendly, no doubt this is a metaphor for a love affair, accompanied suitably by piano, bass, trumpet and finger snaps. Brown Baby is a beautiful song of encouragement to a black child, wishing for a better life than the mother has had, really a song about civil rights, sung movingly, and accompanied by bass only, 'I want you to walk down freedom's road'. Mr Kicks is a witty, fun song about a man looking for kicks.

The rest of the songs are Pure Imagination which includes comments to introduce the album and also a trilling flute solo; It's Alright With Me; When He Makes Music, which is quite contemplative and sung in an intimate, whispery style; Gotta Be This Or That; After You've Gone; When October Goes, (a bossa which includes players on strings); The Way He Makes Me Feel; Just Squeeze Me on which the vibraphone solo adds to the flirtatious feel. Paul Simon's Gone At Last is done effectively as a lively 1950's New Orleans number, and the album concludes with a bonus track of When October Goes, done this time as a ballad.

The CD is available on the Amber Inn Productions label. See www.amberweekes.com
Ann Alex

Amber Weekes (vocals); Peter Smith, Tony Copodonico (piano); Trevor Ware, Jeff Littleton (bass); Charles Ruggiero, Nathaniel Scott (drums); Keith Fiddimont, (saxes); Curtis Taylor, Scotty Barnhart (trumpets); Munyungo Jackson (percussion); Mark Cargill (violin, string arranger/conductor, co-producer); Sue Rainey (vocal on title track) + various others on guitar, flute, vibraphone, backing vocals.

1 comment :

NeilC said...

A sultry relaxing voice great for a late night or Sunday morning listen . The track The Snake was a huge Northern Soul hit for Al Wilson and features on pretty much every Northern Soul compilation album ever released.

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