Lena Horne

Seasons of a Life

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Lena Horne had effectively retired in 2006 when Blue Note released Seasons of a Life, an album compiled for her by her musical director, Rodney Jones, and including unreleased performances recorded between 1994 and 2000. It's an effective capstone to her career, and shows that even at the age of 80, the former Cotton Club featured attraction had lost little of the verve and sophistication she exhibited throughout her career. The material comes from six different sessions, some live but most in a studio environment, including outtakes -- most of which sound like outtakes -- from her Blue Note albums of the '90s. Three of the performances come from the Blue Note project Classic Ellington, which allowed Simon Rattle and the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to pay tribute to Duke Ellington in a classical context. (For this release, Rodney Jones appears to have merely excised the symphony to make these small-group performances.) Most interesting, however, are two tracks recorded with Herbie Hancock, the first a trio recording of Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" and the second a Horne-Hancock duet on "Willow Weep for Me."

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