Jeanne Lee

Natural Affinities

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Jeanne Lee was always an unusual singer, one of the most adventurous to emerge out of the 1960s in jazz. Listening to this 1992 recording, one hears many moments that sound a bit like Cassandra Wilson would a decade later. Lee has a warm but dark voice, often floating as part of the ensemble rather than dominating the music, although in reality she is the dominating force. During this set, although there are conventional moments (particularly a straightforward "I Thought About You" and parts of the closing number, which is Brazilian-oriented), much of the haunting music is quite atmospheric and beyond any specific style. "Mingus Meditations" has Lee at a couple points reciting the words of Charles Mingus from his semi-fictional memoirs, "Peace Chorale" and "Free Space" are not too conventional, and in some spots Lee gives prominent roles (even during her vocals) to bassist Dave Holland, trumpeter Leo Smith, and altoist Mark Whitecage. The overall results are intriguing and will take several listens to fully appreciate.

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