And A Very Special Guest
Tues., Oct. 14th following "The Celebrating Annie Tribute"
CD Release Show: Click here for Tickets & Info
Celebrating Annie Tribute: Click here for Tickets & Info
(Red Anchor Records CAP 1047)
INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED JAZZ CABARET
34 WEST 22ND ST.
(Bet. 5th & 6th Aves)
NEW YORK, NY 10010
| The concept of tribute in jazz has become as common as the use of 4/4 time. But when a tribute is paid to a giant by an artist who has earned her own right to tribute through her personal accomplishments, an entirely new dimension is in play. Such is the case with Annie Ross’ stunning To Lady with Love – an extraordinary homage to Annie’s personal idol – the immortal Billie Holiday.|
This is not simply an “Annie Ross Sings Billie” concept, but rather a deeply heartfelt and powerfully emotional paean to everything Billie – and all truly committed artists who’ve chosen jazz as their language of spiritual communication – represents. Of the ten songs on the album that had been recorded by Lady Day, seven are from her shattering Lady in Satinalbum. To those who are familiar with Billie’s tragic and heartbreaking saga, that album epitomizes the core of her artistry in its rawest form. Recorded in the final stages of her pain-ridden life, at a time when her beautifully fragile voice had lost its purity and cornet-like clarity, Billie transcended such earthbound qualities to deliver musical performances that captured the essence of artistry and spirituality in their purest and most palpable form – almost unbearable in sheer intensity and hardcore truth.
This is the substance that Annie pursues here – and captures fully. While Lady in Satin surrounded Billie with strings and chorus, Annie chose the polar opposite for her expression – the brilliant father and son guitar tandem of Bucky and John Pizzarelli. The unity of purpose and the utterly captivating sense of shared love that these three consummate artists express throughout this enthralling endeavor are simply overwhelming. As Annie summarizes in the DVD interview with all three artists that is included in this package:
“It was done with a whooooole lot of Love.”
And that love is exquisitely expressed in every moment of this remarkable CD.
As expected by the guitarists’ impeccable artistry, their contributions are marvelous, whether complementing Annie in the structural context or in their solos, which are always sensitively appropriate to the music. Sometimes the guitars provide a perfectly constructed silk and velvet cushion to display the jewel of Annie’s vocal splendor; at others they create a mesmerizing atmosphere of gossamer mist as they swirl about the core of her vocal.
Although there are eleven songs – the ten associated with Lady Day and an original by Annie and Russ Freeman that closes out the album – one must really consider this album as if it is a single piece of music; like a suite, or from another perspective, a theatrical presentation.
The unifying focus is balladry in its most vividly crafted and viscerally emotional form. The individual songs, all quite familiar and all ranging somewhere between very beautiful and absolutely gorgeous, are nonetheless secondary to the aesthetic and spiritual substance of the performance - somewhat in the manner that Ingrid Bergman’s great beauty became irrelevant in the shadow of her acting. And that comparison has a very appropriate meaning here, for as the eminent commentator on the art of song Will Friedwald says in his excellent liner notes, “Annie’s approach has much more to do with the notion of acting than it does with the way that most people understand the word ‘singing’ today.”
Annie often blends an almost spoken-word approach into her vocals here, most notably on I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You, When Your Love Has Gone and I Get Along Without You Very Well, adding an extra poignancy to the message of acceptance and determination in the face of lost love. And yet the sheer loveliness of the songs’ lyricism is not only undiminished, but enhanced by her delivery.
Dramatic expressiveness is a major element in Annie’s stylistic approach, sometimes through a deliciously tantalizing use of suspension, best exemplified on For All We Know, in the filigree sensitivity and heart-wrenching emotion of You Don’t Know What Love Is, and on It’s Easy to Remember, a journey into sheer beauty. And sometimes it’s by means of incandescently passionate fire as in I’m a Fool to Want You, where the pain and sense of endless deprivation is blisteringly palpable.
Although there is no departure from ballad mode, an almost jaunty tempo is achieved on the breathtakingly beautiful Violets for Your Furs, and a somewhat bluesy You’ve Changed – both stoked by old-school guitar strumming underneath. And Travelin’ Light – true to its title – is a compelling and delightful bounce.
The overarching concept of the album is further expressed by the pieces that bookend the eleven Holiday-associated songs. The deeply moving opening item, To Lady is a short spoken dedication to Lady Day that still contains the art of song in its delivery; and the final track, Music Is Forever, provides an ideal final statement, fully summarizing what this album is all about.
As a bonus, the DVD that is included in the set offers interviews with all three artists, providing a vivid look at the intimate connection that they have with each other, and the impact that this music had upon them.
To Lady with Love is what the concept of tribute is supposed to be in its purest form. It honors not just the artist of its focus, but the Truth and profundity that is in the heart and soul of that artist. On one level, this album is a powerful, evocative and sometimes haunting portrait, crafted with intimacy, subtlety and enormous artistry. On another, it is the substance to which all artists strive to achieve in its universal message of love, pain and the fragility of the human condition.
Artist Website: http://www.annieross.net