Title - 'Nightbird'
Artist - Eva Cassidy
For those not in the know, Eva Marie Cassidy was an American vocalist and guitarist known for her interpretations of jazz, blues, folk, gospel, country, rock and pop classics. In 1992, she released her first album, The Other Side, a set of duets with go-go musician Chuck Brown, followed by the 1996 live solo album titled Live at Blues Alley. Although she had been honored by the Washington Area Music Association, she was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, D.C., when she sadly died of melanoma in 1996.
Having culled some mighty form of cult status since her passing, the people behind Eva Cassidy's continual musical releases have now brought out that incredible aforementioned live album, Live at Blues Alley as a double album. Featuring Cassidy's performance that that club on January 3rd, 1996, the talented songstress now sees her work from two nights of playing live there retitled as Nightbird.
You see, the story goes that after having a potential contract with Apollo Records collapse - due to the label going bankrupt - she decided to release her own live album. So, in early January of 1996, the material for Live at Blues Alley was recorded over a two-day period at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. However, due to a technical glitch on the first night of recording, only the second night's recording was usable. Unhappy with the way she sounded due to a cold, she was reluctant to release the album at that time though, eventually relenting, on the one condition that the studio track 'Oh, Had I a Golden Thread', Cassidy's favorite song, would be included on the release.
So, here on Nightbird we now get 31 songs recorded in (still) just the one night at the Washington, DC area Blues Alley jazz club. Encompassing the full spectrum of Eva's gospel, blues, jazz and folk roots, the live album truly showcases the breadth and depth of one of the world s greatest singers.
Together for the first time since the magic night they were recorded on January 3rd, 1996, this live Nightbird collection is the best evidence of the genius of Eva Cassidy. Beginning with the jazzy Blues of 'Blue Skies,' that's backed by the downtown soul of 'Ain't Doin Too Bad,' the stunning ballad 'Ain't No Sunshine,' the Sting beauty 'Fields of Gold,' and then both the funk of 'Baby I Love You' and the sultry 'Honeysuckle Rose.'
The jazz piano of 'Route 66' is next, and is backed by the Simon & Garfunkel masterpiece, 'Bridge over Troubled Water.' Man alive, it's tracks like this, that don't even sound "live" that make you wonder what else this uber talented woman would/could have brought out in these subsequent years. Eva than introduces the whole band, in a gentle, relaxed tone, and after the drummer himself then introduces Eva ("the star of our show"), they launch into the Motown classic, 'Chain of Fools.'
Next up is a mid-tempo 'Fever,' which is itself followed by the graceful ballad 'Autumn Leaves,' the bad boyfriend Blues of 'Fine and Mellow,' the gentle swing of 'Cheek To Cheek,' and then both the harder swing of 'It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)' and the fast, stunning guitar work of 'Late in the Evening.' The first CD then rounds out with both the throaty 'Next Time You See Me' and then the subtle, ethereal 'Waly Waly.'
The second CD opens with a rousing 'Take Me to the River,' before the beautiful title track ballad, 'Nightbird.' A low brow 'People Get Ready's is next, and is followed by a mid-tempo 'The Letter,' a dutiful 'Son of a Preacher Man,' a Blues-smouldering 'Stormy Monday,' and then both 'Tall Trees in Georgia' and the preaching of 'Something's Got a Hold of Me.' The Cyndi Lauper classic 'Time After Time's is a true delight to behold, as is everything here, in all honesty, and that's backed by 'Over the Rainbow,' the feisty 'You're Welcome to the Club,' and then the drum-tacular 'Caravan.' The whole double album then rounds out with 'You've Changed' ("Your smile is just a careless yawn"), a spot on 'What a Wonderful World,' and then that personally requested (by Eva herself) song inclusion, 'Oh Had I a Golden Thread.' One night, one take - that's just how good Eva Cassidy was, Ladies and Gentleman.
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