Wesla Whitfield

Beautiful Love

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Wesia Whitfield achieved acclaim with several fine recordings made for Landmark between 1988 and 1994, but interspersed during that period are fine dates like this one for the much smaller Cabaret label. It was ironically produced by Landmark's owner (at that time), the legendary Orrin Keepnews, who was one of her first major champions. The 15 tracks that she covers on this CD include a mix of familiar standards, mingled with forgotten songs from Broadway and films. One of her other strengths is that she faithfully restores the verses omitted by many vocalists, along with her clear intonation and captivating expressive voice. Her interpretation of Cole Porter's "Ev'rything I Love" is full of drama, while it's fun to hear her lively take of "Wonderful Guy" (from South Pacific), a piece rarely performed in a jazz setting. The innuendo-filled nature of "Don't Go to Strangers" is treated subtly by the singer. "Blues are Brewin'" was suggested to her by a dying fan who knew her work well yet never met her again; this song from the film New Orleans was sung initially by Billie Holiday, and Whitfield focuses on the hope within this unjustly neglected piece. Whitfield's husband, pianist Mike Greensill, provides just the right touch on every track, along with superb accompaniment by bassist Dean Reilly and drummer Tom Duckworth. Whitfield's liner notes are an added plus, as she expresses her feelings about each song and what inspired her to choose it. Anyone who has enjoyed her work for Landmark and High Note should definitely seek this lesser-known (but every bit as brilliant) gem as well.

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