Deborah Brown: For The Love Of Ivie: A Tribute to Ivie Anderson (2008)
Ivie Anderson was Duke Ellington's mainstay singer from 1931 to 1942, melding the depth of Billie Holiday with the sophisticated attitude of Lena Horne. Deborah Brown is one of the finest modern jazz vocalists ever to grace live venues and recording studios. In common with Anderson, she is a musician's vocalist, having played with the likes of Slide Hampton, Cedar Walton, Clark Terry, Johnny Griffin, Michel Le Grand, "Toots" Thielemans and Roy Hargrove, amply showing the respect in which she is regarded by the players, as well as her great adaptability. With For The Love Of Ivie , Brown takes Anderson's repertoire in a modern directionswinging, scatting, and crooning with a group of outstanding European musicians, its core consisting of drummer Eric Ineke's Jazz Xpress, one of the continent's best groups.
Well-recorded and mastered, with sensitive and responsive instrumentalists, the recording tastefully transcends Anderson and the Duke, mirroring the many moods and idioms of jazz, from blues, Latin and swing to bebop and beyond, with Brown delivering her typically disciplined yet lively and swinging interpretations. Few singers, if any, can match her unwavering precision, timing, vocal technique, and synchronization. Throughout this album, she sings intelligently, with resonant voice, and controlled expression of emotion, backed up with lively accompaniment and solos that pleasingly frame Brown's voice. It's all together a moveable jazz songfest.
In addition to the Ellington classics like "Mood Indigo," "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing," and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good," the album includes Billy Strayhorn's "Your Love Has Faded," featuring superb trombone work by Bart Van Lier, and standards like "My Old Flame" and "Stormy Weather." An instrumental version of Ellington's "Black Beauty" shows off the sidemen's talents, while Brown's artful rendition of the lovely blues-oriented ballad, "It Was a Sad Night in Harlem," is a dark horse number. Brown grew up in Kansas City (where she now resides), spent time in New Orleans, and was later based in Holland, where she mentored students such as JD Walter. Harking back to the days of swing and bebop, this album reflects Brown's KC roots enhanced by the European experience.
Topping off the album's high quality are excellent liner notes, session photographs, and a precious photograph of Ellington and Anderson with band members, at what appears to be a train station in The Hague, Netherlands.
A great way to listen to this album is to pair it off with Ivie Anderson with Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (EPM, 1996). In particular, Anderson's melancholic version of "Mood Indigo" includes a signature solo by Ben Webster, and contrasts sharply with Brown's Latin-spiced rendition. It's also fun to contemplate which of them merits the seven-second exclamation, "That's the Version!" which Brown tacked onto her CD.
Track Listing: Mood Indigo; It Don't Mean a Thing; Your Love Has Faded; I'm Satisfied; Solitude; Black Beauty; It Was A Sad Night in Harlem; All God's Chillun; I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good; My Old Flame; I'm Checkin' Out, Goom-Bye; Stormy Weather; That's the Version!
Personnel: Deborah Brown: vocals, piano; Benjamin Herman: alto saxophone; Bart Van Lier: trombone; Sjoerd Dijkhuizen: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Rik Mol: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rob Van Bavel: piano; Eric Ineke: drums, cymbals, percussion.