Lillian Boutté: Embraceable You
Lillian Boutte (vocals)
The Jazz Book (Blues Beacon 1020-2)
Edward Frank (piano), Lloyd Lambert (bass), Sřren Frost (drums).
Composed by George and Ira Gershwin.
Recorded: New Orleans, LA, February 1993
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Although one of the finest gospel, jazz, blues, and R & B singers to ever come out of New Orleans, the versatile Boutté is probably best known--outside of the Crescent City itself--in Great Britain and Europe. Early in her career Boutté was a back-up singer on various Allen Toussaint projects, then starred for four years with a touring company of the jazz-based musical One Mo' Time, after which she and her husband, German saxophonist Thomas l'Etienne, spent most of their time performing together overseas. However, in 1986 she was named "New Orleans Musical Ambassador," a title only previously bestowed on none other than Louis Armstrong. Boutté's appearances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival have always been highly anticipated and rewarding.
Boutté's The Jazz Book CD focuses on her jazz-oriented singing style, and the ballad performance "Embraceable You" fully displays the polished, understated beauty of her voice and approach. Beginning with the piano intro so well known from Charlie Parker's classic 1947 version, Boutté then follows with her rich, controlled vibrato, singing the words with a reserved, appealing quaver that nearly turns this interpretation into a gospel paean, rather than a secular acknowledgment of love. Leroy Jones' commanding trumpet solo is patterned after Clifford Brown, exhibiting a similar well-rounded, glowing tone, lyricism, and precise phrasing. His obbligatos enhance Boutté's spiritual reprise, as does pianist Edward Frank's deliberate, unassuming chord placements. Lloyd Lambert and Sřren Frost add greatly to the success of this track with their sensitive--and clearly recorded--rhythmic support.
Reviewer: Scott Albin