Andy and the Bey Sisters / The Bey Sisters / Andy Bey

'Round Midnight

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Criminally unsung pianist and singer Andy Bey had the most visible career after he and his sisters Salome and Geraldine Bey broke up their performing trio after an 11-year run in 1967, but this family singing ensemble was far more than just the act that launched Andy, and he wasn't really the focus of the group. All three siblings were highlighted equally in the trio, and their harmonies together were the ethereal kind that can only happen in a family where all involved have grown up hearing each other's voices and phrasing every single day. The Bey trio recorded very little together, unfortunately, just a single album for RCA in 1961 and two albums for Prestige, Now! Hear!, released in 1964, and this one, 'Round Midnight, from 1965. Part gospel, part muted R&B, part stylized blues, the Bey trio was also very much a jazz outfit, due in no small part to Andy's underappreciated piano playing and the presence of bop veterans like Milt Hinton on bass, Osie Johnson on drums, and Kenny Burrell (who appears on about half of the tracks here) on guitar. In essence, the Bey trio sounded like a thinned-out and more jazzy, gauzy version of the Staple Singers. Highlights from this set are a wonderfully balanced version of Ray Charles' "Hallelujah, I Love Her So," a stirring take on Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child," the ever expanding and ascending "Feeling Good," and a fine rendition of the title track, Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight," which has never been the easiest song in the world to sing effectively, but the trio nails it here in what might have been deemed a definitive version if it had actually been heard by more than a handful of people.

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