Andy Bey

Shades of Bey

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Andy Bey's bass-baritone voice has aged over the last thirty-odd years, but it's aged well; he now sings in a husky drawl that sounds all the more warm and intimate for being a bit ragged around the edges. When he goes into falsetto, as on "Midnight Blue," athe sound is so dark that you don't recognize it as falsetto at first. This album peaks early on with "Like a Lover," a wistful love song with only the gentlest, sparest guitar accompaniment. But there are many other beautiful moments, the best of which always come on the slow numbers: the Billy Strayhorn classic "Pretty Girl," on which Bey sounds like Billy Eckstine with a weathered patina to his voice, and the surprising Nick Drake cover, the moody and intense "River Man." His vocal version of Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser" is fun, but it tends to expose the limitations of his range; however, he makes the uptempo "Believin' It" work beautifully -- Geri Allen's edgy, modernist piano contrasts nicely with Bey's effusive, bop-inflected delivery.

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