Thursday, August 6, 2009


i saw her out here at yoshi's a number of years ago. i used to pester philip when he lived in nyc about not going to see gil evans at his regular monday night gig at the blue note. i kept saying that evans wasn't going to be around forever. unfortunately, i was right. mainly, i always regretted not seeing james booker in new orleans at his regular monday night gig at the maple leaf bar. after he passed away unexpectedly, i pestered everyone to see everybody because...well...we're all not going to be around forever.

ms lincoln was as cool as the other side of the pillow & in total command that night. unlike the recent spate of billie holiday wannabes & imitators, lincoln took the ideas of holliday & used them to enhance her own natural abilities. a standard jazz melody becomes the tool which allows vocal improvisation to explore, invent, expand the original. the voice becomes an instrument w/its various specific abilities of phrasing, intonation, range, & dynamics.

oddly, when i listen to abbey lincoln i don't hear billie as much as i hear our other great jazz contralto, cassandra wilson(who i saw live in sf w/wynton marsalis). mostly, though, i just hear the rich lushness of the voice & i go where ever it chooses to takes me.

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