Etta James, vocals; Dorothy Leatherwood, vocals on "Blue Gardenia;" Josh Sklair, guitar; Cedar Walton, piano; Tony Dumas, bass; Ralph Pendland, drums; Red Holloway, tenor saxophone; George Bohannon, trombone; Ronnie Buttacavoli, trumpet and flugelhorn; and, Rick Baptist on flugelhorn and Ron Powell on percussion on "Love Letters."
Cedar Walton arranged all the tunes on this CD with the exception of one and what could be better than that! Walton is such a tasty pianist and accompanist and is perfectly so here. The choice of material is excellent and covers some great Jazz standards. Etta James is an extraordinary vocalist who can do it all and she proves it again here. Although James describes this CD as a Jazz collection in her comments in the liner notes, the blues is ubiquitous. You can feel the ache in her voice.
The first cut, "This Bitter Earth," sets the low-key sophisticated tone of this effort with Walton's brilliant piano work and gets even better on "He's Funny That Way." On the latter, one can hear James in the background murmuring admiration. Red Holloway solos on "In My Solitude" and "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" with his bluesy sax style. "Love Letters" was arranged by Josh Sklair on which he plays guitar along with Rick Baptist on flugelhorn in a lovely serene version of this tune. On "These Foolish Things" and "Cry Me A River," James' lyrics drip with emotion. "Don't Blame Me" is a wistful vocal endeavor elevated by Walton's elegant piano handiwork. James' improvisational style on "My Man is appealing." George Bohannon does a perfectly beautiful, but too short, trombone solo on "My Man." "Blue Gardenia" features Dorothy Leatherwood, the mother of Etta James. Her vocal style is unpolished but alluring. Etta James exhibits nostalgia colored by sentiment on this CD and it is an elegant undertaking.
by Dorothy Hill, Blues Editor
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