Nancy Wilson

Something Wonderful

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This fine album was sadly lost in the shuffle when it was released the same year as another Nancy Wilson album, The Swingin's Mutual!, her highly successful collaboration with the George Shearing Quintet. This is a shame, because Something Wonderful is one of Wilson's best albums, and her tastiest, with famed big-band arranger Billy May. Only 23 years old at the time, Wilson had a commanding blues- and soul-drenched jazz voice that was fully formed at the time of this recording, and unlike so many young singers, she was already committed to communicating lyrics rather than just showing off her vocal chops. This is beautifully illustrated in the narrative gem "Guess Who I Saw Today," which justly went on to become one of Wilson's signature tunes. For his part, May keeps the accent here on swinging jazz but avoids the heavy brass and wild percussion that he became famous for. Instead, he opts for a subtler sound. May even throws a couple of small-group jazz and blues numbers into the mix and allows some superb jazz musicians (including Ben Webster, the legendary tenor saxophonist) to shine in the solo spotlight. Something Wonderful remains one of Nancy Wilson's most jazz-oriented sessions, and it's a welcome addition to her catalog.

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