Mary Stallings


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Mary Stallings had made her mark over a career stretching nearly a half-century by the time of this recording session, and she still is very impressive in her early seventies. The expressive alto benefits from an outstanding rhythm section, anchored by pianist/arranger Eric Reed, with bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Ralph Penland. "Close Enough for Love" is the striking opener, and while this was a signature song for the late Shirley Horn, Stallings is buoyed by Reed's uptempo, dramatic setting of this standard. Contrasting with that is the lush, very deliberate approach to "That Old Black Magic," with Stallings putting greater emphasis on Johnny Mercer's romantic lyrics in a very sensual way. The neglected "A Weaver of Dreams" is an absolute delight, with Stallings swinging over Reed's tasty stride piano in a duo performance. The vocalist also offers a striking interpretation of "A Timeless Place" (vocalist Norma Winstone's lyrical adaptation of Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks"), a shimmering affair in which Stallings captures the essence of the words and melody. "Never Knew" is a rare opportunity for Stallings to record with her daughter, R&B vocalist Adriana Evans (who also co-wrote the piece), for a funky, upbeat number that adds a bit of contemporary flavor to this collection of timeless standards.

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