Della Reese

The Collection

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Seventeen-track collection of 1965-68 sides. Reese was one of the singers of the era who, like Nancy Wilson and Cleo Laine, was more than anything else a pop singer, but whose style and arrangements did admit some influences from contemporary jazz, blues, and soul. The majority of the time, this is good supper-club music with strings aplenty, delivered with more soul and gospel flavor than most such singers are capable of conveying. As is the case with many such artists, she traverses through different styles with eclecticism. At times she gets into what could almost be Ray Charles territory; on "After Loving You," the only song here that had even a modest chart impact, she adopts Charles' soul singer-doing-country-music strategy. For my money, it gets best when the arrangements get less string-heavy and the material bluesier and more soulful, as on "Some of My Best Friends Are the Blues" and "I've Got the Blues," which even have some lean and mean bluesy guitar licks. Of the avowedly pop selections, a standout is her 1965 single of "And That Reminds Me."

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