In cleaning out their proverbial closet and I mean that with the deepest respect, Justin Time Records finds yet another potentially over looked jewel in Ranee Lee's Deep Song. This digitally re-mastered gem featuring Canadian pianist Oliver Jones and the great Milt Hinton is a more than fitting tribute to the legendary Billie Holiday and again far more than your typical cover versions of time tested classics.
Lee is a Renaissance woman in the artistic world in general and the jazz world in particular. From songwriter to award winning actress to children's book author and respected jazz educator, Lee takes on perhaps her biggest challenge in the works of and associated with the legendary Billie Holiday. In the hands of a lesser artist this concept could have disaster written all over it. Lee rises to the occasion and turns in a slightly more contemporary riff but articulated with the phrasing and intonation necessary to elevate a "good" release to a "great release." Spot on vocals, warm and earthy while maintaining a deceptively subtle mystery to the presentation. That all important connectivity with the listener/audience will have you wondering if she is telling you a personal story or simply reinventing a standard by placing her own indelible mark on a tune that may have been done to death but here is another secret to the success of this release. The set list here is slightly on the eclectic side, familiar yet not so much so that the organic translation is lost in comparison to the original. This is a daunting task for most singers but a vocal talent the likes of Lee is seemingly right at home and is singing from a place well past her heart and soul. The music of Billie Holiday is clearly a part of what makes Lee a captivating performer and that influence makes the record and to the listener with ease. Of course as frequently said, a former editor would caution me in telling the listener what to expect. This same somewhat self absorbed individual would follow up his sage wisdom with "we all need editors." True enough...I simply did not need him. With talent the likes of Ranee Lee that blatantly obvious is perhaps lost on those that may be tone deaf, outside of that Lee is a vocal force that should have heads turning at this point.
Jazz standards for the next generation. Making old school new cool with flair and sophistication not seen since well...Billie Holiday. A sublime release, intoxicating to the point of bordering on the addictive.
Tracks: I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone; When A Woman Loves A Man; Crazy When He Calls Me; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; God Bless The Child; Somebody's On My Mind; Easy Livin; Strange Fruit; Ain't Nobody's Business; Them There Eyes; Don't Explain; Deep Song; Fine And Mellow; Ill Wind.
Personnel: Ranee Lee: vocals; Richard Ring: guitar; Oliver Jones: piano; Milt Hinton: bass; Richard Beaudet: saxophone and flute; Archie Alleyne: drums.