Nancy Wilson - R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal) -2004

Nancy Wilson
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Few would have thought that after more than 50 years and sixty albums, Nancy Wilson would, at age 67 and on a small custom label, create one of the greatest albums of her career and one of the best discs of 2004 -- but that's  exactly what she's done.  I've always felt that she was at her absolute best when pulled away from large pop or adult contemporary arrangements with which she was often saddled, and instead placed into small jazz combos.  Fortunately, that's the norm on R.S.V.P.   Sure, there are a couple of nice big band numbers with "Day In, Day Out" and "I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart," but the soul of the album is in a series of intimate ballads with just Nancy and some restrained, acoustic jazz backing, with the legendary singer surrounded by equally legendary instrumentalists.  "You'll See," with trombonist Bill Watrous, is similar to her excellent early 60s work, as is "How About Me," on which she works with Paquito D'Rivera on clarinet.  But best of all are t

Few would have thought that after more than 50 years and sixty albums, Nancy Wilson would, at age 67 and on a small custom label, create one of the greatest albums of her career and one of the best discs of 2004 -- but that's  exactly what she's done.  I've always felt that she was at her absolute best when pulled away from large pop or adult contemporary arrangements with which she was often saddled, and instead placed into small jazz combos.  Fortunately, that's the norm on R.S.V.P.   Sure, there are a couple of nice big band numbers with "Day In, Day Out" and "I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart," but the soul of the album is in a series of intimate ballads with just Nancy and some restrained, acoustic jazz backing, with the legendary singer surrounded by equally legendary instrumentalists.  "You'll See," with trombonist Bill Watrous, is similar to her excellent early 60s work, as is "How About Me," on which she works with Paquito D'Rivera on clarinet.  But best of all are the album's bookends, the sly "An Older Man is Like an Elegant Wine" (with Toots Thielemans and Phil Woods) and the quiet piano ballad "Blame it on My Youth" (with George Shearing), instantly the greatest version of that oft-recorded song.  Wilson's vocals are deeper and smokier than in her heyday, and her interpretive skills are better than ever, especially on the "An Older Man," "Blame It" and "I Wish I'd Met You."  Wilson says she personally chose all the material on the album, and the results sound both personal and refreshing.  She not only handles these songs effectively, but she delivers, for my money, the year's finest late night disc.  An essential album.

CR

 

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