Cynthia Felton: Afro Blue
2008 Felton Entertainment
Cyrus Chestnut, Robert Hurst, Jeff “Tain” Watts,
Ernie Watts, Jeff Clayton, Wallace Roney, Patrice Rushen
Terri Lyne Carrington, Tony Dumas, Ndugu Chancler,
Donald Brown, Yoron Israel, and more…
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 15, 2008
This CD is a tribute to the great Oscar Brown, Jr., with sassy vocals, melancholy blues, and a solo spiritual. Cynthia Felton sings with confidence, and her notes are crystal clear. Her use of scat, that merges with equally staccato brass, was particularly intriguing, and her wide array of collaborative artists is impressive.
#2 – Afro Blue – Composed by Mongo Santamaria, Oscar Brown, Jr. This title track features Cynthia Felton on vocals, Ernie Watts on tenor sax, Cyrus Chestnut on piano, and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums. Ms. Felton starts the piece with the same intensity of the previous spiritual, before Ernie Watt’s sax improvises on her theme, in a back and forth of vocals and sax. Cyrus Chestnut echoes long chord refrains, while Jeff “Tain” Watts takes a sensational solo.
#8 – When Malindy Sings – Composed by Paul L. Dunbar, Oscar Brown, Jr. Breezy brass (Jeff Clayton on alto sax, Wallace Roney on trumpet), piano (Cyrus Chestnut), bass (Ronald Hurst), guitar (Ronald Muldrow), drums (Yoron Israel and M. Jackson, percussion), and Ms. Felton’s vocals are featured here in Oscar Brown’s melodious piece. Ms. Felton sings with smooth, but intense musicality. This is a song you’ll want to hear again, with poetic lyrics by Paul Dunbar.
#9 – Dat Dere – Composed by Bobby Timmons, Oscar Brown, Jr. This was my favorite track, with a bluesy vocal melody, enhanced and embellished by Ronald Brown on piano, Yoron Israel on drums, Robert Hurst on bass, and Jeff Clayton on alto sax. Ms. Felton belts this out with the help of her lively ensemble, and she allows for a luscious piano/bass/drum trio that puts their mark on the music.
#13 – Long As You’re Living – Composed by Oscar Brown, Jr. Ernie Watts on tenor sax and Yoron Israel on drums are showcased here, in passages between Ms. Felton’s vocal song poem. A special feature is a long bass solo (Robert Hurst), over Israel’s brushes and metal, before a full drum explosion. Derf Reklaw adds African percussion, while Watts’ sax soars with style.
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