Willie Nelson

Night and Day

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It might come as a surprise to learn that Night and Day is a jazz-minded instrumental album, but it shouldn't. Willie Nelson had been bringing jazz elements to his country-pop foundation since the late '50s, so recording an instrumental album that spotlights his guitar playing and illustrates his appreciation of jazz was a logical move. Night and Day isn't a hard bop blowing date; fusing pre-swing jazz with country and pop, Nelson draws on such influences as Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and favors lyricism that is melodic, straightforward, and uncomplicated. When he tackles well-known standards like "All the Things You Are," "Night and Day," Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," and Reinhardt's "Nuages," Nelson the guitar-playing instrumentalist isn't much different from Nelson the singer: He still brings a great deal of charm, vulnerability, and charisma to the studio. One of Nelson's strongest assets on this CD is fiddler/mandolinist Johnny Gimble, who fits in perfectly. Released when Nelson was 66, Night and Day is an album that was long overdue.

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