Monday, April 9, 2012

Down Here Below Blake/Correa RPR 2012


Abby Lincoln was a rare and gifted artist. Blessed with more than a brilliant gift for song, Lincoln was blessed with ability to transcend the lyrics in a fashion where her interpretation of a song was that of the merging of the soul with the written melody. A vocalist with the sublime talent and artist passion of Lincoln passes through this life on the rarest of occasions. Lincoln passed away on 08/14/2010. Many historians reference her lyrics in direct connection to the civil rights movement and Lincoln was married to drummer Max Roach. For many, Lincoln is considered to be the next logical progression in the evolution of not only the traditional jazz vocalist but the classical American artist as she was perhaps the first true triple threat as vocalist, composer and actress with the ability to navigate between the three with a level of virtuosity yet to have been experienced on stage at that time.

Down Here Below which is considered Volume 1 may best be described as the vocal portion of Lincoln's career that include songs of protest and hope, dramatic original works and standards from the Great American Songbook. A more than fitting tribute that serves as an ominous and reflective tribute of sublime eloquence and powerful and oddly relevant works that are fitting to this day. Opening with the Lincoln original "Down Here Below" there is an artistic standard set of unparalleled dramatic quality as vocalist Christine Correa is joined by pianist/composer Ran Blake. An intimate and compelling look at an American vocalist that transcended race as well as genre in her unique artistry. Odd and shifting meter, harmonic dissonance and a quiet if not reverent melancholy haunt this release as though a guiding hand not of this earth was influencing the sonic path taken. "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" given what is now referred to as the Obama economy seem ironically appropriate in the rise and fall of not just the American but global economies across the earth. Times are indeed hard, Correa's vocal abilities are perfect in capturing the angst and anguish of the average American family and their struggles both socially and politically. "Bird Alone" has the duo working working in close to a prayer-like lament with each musician attentive to the voice of their compatriot. Ran Blake and Christine Correa are a pristine match as an artistic duo working as one voice in their portrayal of Lincoln's work.

Having long said that the ability of a true artist is tested if not shown by taking the work of another artist and placing their own indelible mark on the work without disrespecting the original or themselves and Blake and Correa pull off this artistic gem with relative ease.

A superlative release. A sublime and respectful look at an American icon.

Tracks: Down Here Below; Little Niles; Freedom Day; Brother, Can You Spare A Dime; Christmas Cheer; Bird Alone; African Lady; Retribution; Freedom Day; How I Hoped For Your Love; Christmas Cheer; Down Here Below.

Personnel: Ran Blake: piano; Christine Correa: voice.