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A great young talent

By Nnenna Freelon

Columbia Records: 1994

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This review first appeared in the November 25, 1995 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Vocalist Nnenna Freelon is a traditionalist, right from the school of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. She scats, she swoops, she holds sustained notes with tremolo. Her timing has that slight hesitation, a la Frank Sinatra, that creates a sense of drama.

This is old-fashioned torch music, the kind you'd hear in a small, intimate club with cigarette smoke choking the ceiling and a low murmur of conversation as a backdrop. This is the kind of classic jazz you hear in nightclubs witih a trio or quartet backing a sultry singer whose smoky lyrics get lost in the swirling patterns of the ice melting in your drink.

Freelon is a world-class vocalist, with superb range and absolute control of her pitch and tone. Like the great singers, her voice is an instrument, communicating as much by a small but well-placed change in timbre as by the lyrics.