Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Memoriam

One of the tallest trees in the forest of jazz has fallen: Abbey Lincoln passed away on Saturday. If you've never heard her, you must: you can see a magnificent performance of "First Song" (music, Charlie Haden; words, Abbey) on YouTube.

There are many recordings to choose from, but my own favorite is The World is Falling Down from 1990. Listen to her utterly distinctive version of "How High The Moon," from that album: you will never hear any other version again without comparing it unfavorably to this one. (Jackie McClean, whose sound on the alto sax seems to be what the word "keening" was invented to describe, is a brilliant accompanist here.) A close second is from early in her career, the album That's Him, featuring the saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins and Max Roach, Abbey's husband-to-be, on drums.

RIP, Abbey.

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