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Vocal Jazz - Released October 10, 2001 | Enja Horst Weber

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Abbey Lincoln's idol has always been Billie Holiday. Although she has never really copied Lady Day and she has long had her own style and sound, the feeling and intensity that Lincoln gives the lyrics she interprets is reminiscent of late-period Holiday. A perfect person to pay tribute to Billie Holiday, Lincoln (on the first of two Enja CDs) is joined by the underrated tenor Harold Vick (who would pass away unexpectedly within a short time after this recording), pianist James Weidman, bassist Tarik Shaha and drummer Mark Johnson for fresh renditions of standards. Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" is taken as an instrumental feature for Vick and other highlights include "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit," an emotional "I'll Be Seeing You" and a song perfectly suited for Abbey Lincoln's voice: "Crazy He Calls Me." One of the singer's best recordings of the 1980s and a fine complement to the equally rewarding Vol. 2. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
Recorded mostly in New York, Over the Years is aimed at summing up Abbey Lincoln's long career. Joining her are excellent, but not so well-known performers, plus the giant sax player Joe Lovano. But it is Lincoln's special interpretative powers that carry the day, as one would expect. The play list is rather unusual even for an iconoclast like Lincoln. There are tunes from the 1940s, traditional material, some romantic standards, and her own compositions. "Lucky to Be Me," from the musical On the Town, features some ear-catching work by the rhythm section of Brandon McCune, John Ormond, and Jaz Sawyer. Another fine track is the traditional "Blackberry Blossoms" to which Lincoln has added her own lyrics. She is ably supported on this cut by guest tenor player Joe Lovano and guest guitarist Kendra Shank, who is also a singer of note. The album's coda is appropriate as Lincoln sings "Tender As a Rose" a cappella, letting her vocal chords stand on their own without benefit of instrumental accompaniment as she ends it with "as that's the way the story goes." © Dave Nathan /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Abbey Lincoln, 65 at the time of this recording, still had a reasonably strong voice at this point in her career, and although she showed signs of mellowing now and then, she was still capable of performing fiery musical statements. This Verve release mostly emphasizes slow tempos and melancholy moods. The nostalgic "Who Used to Dance" (featuring Savion Glover's tapdancing) is a highlight, and "Street of Dreams" works well, although "Mr. Tambourine Man" is not too essential. Six different saxophonists (five of them altoists) appear on the date (usually one on a song), and despite the diversity in styles (from Steve Coleman to Frank Morgan), their subsidiary roles and respectful playing find them all sounding fairly similar. An interesting but not overly essential outing. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Inner City

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Stan Getz is featured on one of his final recordings on this excellent Abbey Lincoln CD; Getz's cool tenor fits in very well with Lincoln's voice, making one wish that they had met up previously. With pianist Hank Jones, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Mark Johnson, and (on two songs) Maxine Roach's viola completing the group, it is not surprising that Lincoln sounds typically inspired. Actually, her version of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" is a bit of a misfire with its dated lyrics (which should have been modified and altered to fit a female). However, "Bird Alone," Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring" (given lyrics by Lincoln), and five of her originals more than compensate. Recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Riverside

Abbey Lincoln's third of three Riverside albums directly precedes her more adventurous work with drummer (and then-husband) Max Roach. With fine backup from trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Wynton Kelly, Les Spann (doubling on guitar and flute), bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Philly Joe Jones) on seven of the ten numbers, and by Roach's regular quintet at the time on the other three selections, Lincoln is quite emotional and distinctive during a particularly strong set. Highlights include the first vocal version ever of "Afro-Blue," "Come Sunday," Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Brother, Where Are You," "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," "Long as You're Living," and Lincoln's own "Let Up." A very memorable set. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

This CD reissues the music from Abbey Lincoln's first LP along with two slightly earlier numbers originally available as singles. At the time, Lincoln was making the transition from a potential sex symbol and lounge singer to a dramatic jazz interpreter. Her voice was recognizable even at this early stage, but some of the ballads are more lightweight than the ones she would be performing in the near future. Backed by anonymous orchestras arranged by Benny Carter, Jack Montrose, and Marty Paich, Abbey Lincoln's straightforward delivery was already impressive and pleasing. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released August 21, 2015 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Concord Records

Singer Abbey Lincoln's second recording, and her first for Riverside, finds her accompanied by quite an all-star roster: tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Max Roach. Even this early, she was already a major jazz singer with a style of her own. Lincoln was careful from this point on to only interpret lyrics that she believed in. Her repertoire has a few superior standards (including several songs such as "I Must Have That Man!" and "Don't Explain" that are closely associated with Billie Holiday) plus Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Strong Man" and Phil Moore's "Tender as a Rose"; she takes the latter unaccompanied. "Don't Explain" is slightly unusual in that Paul Chambers is absent and Wynton Kelly makes an extremely rare appearance on bass. All three of Abbey Lincoln's Riverside albums are well worth the listen. [Some reissues add alternate takes of "I Must Have That Man!" and "Porgy" to the original program.] © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 4, 2019 | Master Tape Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

In a return to the orchestrated settings that she had explored nearly a decade earlier on A Turtle's Dream, Lincoln performs a set rich in variety, with plenty of original tunes that more than hold their own amidst a scattering of classic standards. Whether working with or without strings, she maintains a sophisticated and intimate tunefulness; her adherence to melody, and to subtle phrasing as an alternative to showy improvisation, has always earned comparisons to the work of Billie Holiday, though in this case Lincoln more than matches and arguably surpasses much of the legendary singer's work. Her husky timbre, extraordinary sense of swing at any tempo, and sometimes surprising range make each of these tracks a masterwork of interpretation. Though she has always sought the best accompanists, Lincoln strikes gold here with Kenny Barron, who negotiates the complex melodic structure and chord changes of Cedar Walton's "The Maestro" as if he'd been playing it for years, while on the title track, a duet, he follows and leads her with a dignified medium-tempo gospel feel. Aside from the gimmicky flute chirps on "Yellow Bird," every moment of It's Me, down to the title itself, supports a clear answer to the question "Who is the outstanding jazz chanteuse of our time?" © Robert L. Doerschuk /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Lincoln's place among the pantheon of great jazz singers is undisputed, but this recording finds her voice past its best years. The ravages of time have taken their toll, and the result is pleasant but not her best work. The drop in strength is especially evident in the opening duet with a much younger Maggie Brown. Still, the album has many fine moments, such as an easy swinging "If I Only Had a Brain" and the sweet original "And It's Supposed to Be Love." Her band is particularly fine, especially pianist Marc Cary and Bobby Hutcherson on vibes. © Tim Sheridan /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Concord Records

Abbey Lincoln's third of three Riverside albums directly precedes her more adventurous work with drummer (and then-husband) Max Roach. With fine backup from trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Wynton Kelly, Les Spann (doubling on guitar and flute), bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Philly Joe Jones) on seven of the ten numbers, and by Roach's regular quintet at the time on the other three selections, Lincoln is quite emotional and distinctive during a particularly strong set. Highlights include the first vocal version ever of "Afro-Blue," "Come Sunday," Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Brother, Where Are You," "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," "Long as You're Living," and Lincoln's own "Let Up." A very memorable set. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Verve Int'l

Vocalist Abbey Lincoln's voice is the sound of the earth yearning for your soul. She is lust turned to wisdom. She is diva turned to soothsayer. In her mid-seventies at the time of this recording, Lincoln is the embodiment of a life lived as a performer and lover and now a storyteller through song. Abbey Sings Abbey finds the songstress revisiting a number of her own compositions from past albums. And while she remains a pre-eminent jazz singer, here she has surrounded herself with an eclectic and organic small group that imbues these tracks with a soft country-blues meets klezmer sound that rubs elegantly against Lincoln's burnished vocals. This is a beautifully raw and intimate album full of lament and the faint perfume of romance. As she sings on "Should've Been," "It's the sound of sorry/Looking yonder with regret. Sorry 'cause of what you got/And what you didn't get." These are enigmatic torch songs and playful blues, dark elegies and poignant ballads all featuring Lincoln's own devastatingly precise lyrics and melodies that hint at not just death and regret, but also a lingering passion for life. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released July 2, 2018 | nagel heyer records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Fantasy Records

Singer Abbey Lincoln's second recording, and her first for Riverside, finds her accompanied by quite an all-star roster: tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Max Roach. Even this early, she was already a major jazz singer with a style of her own. Lincoln was careful from this point on to only interpret lyrics that she believed in. Her repertoire has a few superior standards (including several songs such as "I Must Have That Man!" and "Don't Explain" that are closely associated with Billie Holiday) plus Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Strong Man" and Phil Moore's "Tender as a Rose"; she takes the latter unaccompanied. "Don't Explain" is slightly unusual in that Paul Chambers is absent and Wynton Kelly makes an extremely rare appearance on bass. All three of Abbey Lincoln's Riverside albums are well worth the listen. [Some reissues add alternate takes of "I Must Have That Man!" and "Porgy" to the original program.] © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1958 | Riverside

Because Abbey Lincoln has always been careful to sing songs that have a deep meaning for her, all of her recordings through the years are memorable in their own way; there are no duds in her discography. Her second Riverside session (and her third recording), It's Magic has been reissued on this CD in the Original Jazz Classics series. The backup musicians are among the best in jazz at the time (Kenny Dorham or Art Farmer on trumpet, trombonist Curtis Fuller, Benny Golson on tenor, Jerome Richardson or Sahib Shihab on reeds, pianist Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers or Sam Jones on bass, and drummer Philly Joe Jones) and they have opportunities to play short solos. Lincoln is heard at her early best on such numbers as "I Am in Love," "An Occasional Man," "Out of the Past" and Randy Weston's "Little Niles." Recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1980 | Futura Marge - Atypeek Music

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Vocal Jazz - Released August 26, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

This 1992 album was Abbey Lincoln's third for Verve and another fine display of her musical vision. The set consists primarily of her own compositions. The arrangements vary throughout, depending on the needs of each song. Lincoln is supported by her core trio, with guest spots by trombonist J.J. Johnson, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, the Staple Singers, and the Noel Singers, a group made up of children. Lincoln revisits a couple numbers from earlier in her career, "Rainbow" and "People in Me." Her interpretive skills and emotional commitment to the material are such that she can even take on a familiar standard like "A Child Is Born" and make it her own. It's gratifying to see a major jazz label allowing Lincoln's musical vision to flourish and grow. © TiVo

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Abbey Lincoln in the magazine