Thursday, February 20, 2020

Nancy with the Lasting Grace

We're back and we're still pretty Black, with another necessary BHM post chronicling another severely undersung superstar.
I admit I have wanted to cover her since I began this page in 2013, but the total paucity of archival material prevented me from doing so.
When she passed at the end of 2018, I searched up and down but came up empty. All that changes today, as we celebrate what would have been her 83rd birthday.
For a few days ago my endless searching was rewarded with an absolute gem of a show, from just a few days after her husband of 35 years himself passed.
But rewind for a second. What astonished me about the lack of live and unissued stuff was the idea that here was someone who'd been out doing it for over 60 years (!!!!), yet somehow had never had a concert played on the radio. It seemed unlikely at best and utterly unjust at worst.
Beginning in the 1950s, when she first started professionally, she's been one of the uncategorizable song stylists I have gone back to time and time again.
She first blew up in the early 1960s, when she took a cut more in tune with the classic cheatin' songs of Country music and made it a Jazz standard for all times.
Her records with the legendary Julian "Cannonball" Adderley were all over the charts during that time, and she proceeded as the decades spun by to solidify her reputation as someone who could take any song you could name and stamp it with her own, original imprimatur.
When she left us a little over a year ago, I was certain that the flood of archival material was just about to happen. At the least, France Musique would do a thing. But nothing appeared.
I'm sitting there wondering how it's possible that an artist of this caliber, pedigree and longevity went essentially unbootlegged for six decades.
Then, a few days ago, I happened upon this 70 minutes of marvelousness stashed away on another blog.
Some basic retracking, a little levels-boost, and a cover thumbnail later, we are here to reflect upon the unparalleled artistry of the one and only Nancy Wilson.
Nancy Wilson
"A Tribute to Cannonball Adderley" 
Monterey Jazz Festival
Monterey Fairgrounds
Monterey, California USA

01 Never Will I Marry
02 Nancy speaks 
03 Save Your Love for Me
04 Nancy speaks  
05 A Sleepin' Bee 
06 Nancy speaks  
07 (I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over
08 Nancy speaks 
09 Road Song
10 Moondance
11 Nancy speaks 
12 I Wish I'd Met You
13 Nancy speaks 
14 Take Love Easy
15 Nancy speaks  
16 I Can't Make You Love Me
17 Nancy speaks 
18 Guess Who I Saw Today

Total time: 1:10:16

Nancy Wilson - vocals
Tom Scott - saxophones
Terence Blanchard - trumpet
Llew Matthews - keyboards 
Roy McCurdy - drums
John Belzaguy - bass

sounds like a digital capture of the original KUSP-FM broadcast
retracked, repaired and annotated by zootype, April 2016
very slightly retracked, with files titled & tagged -- and volume boosted +7 dB throughout -- by EN, February 2020
This show is kind of what this stuff is all about in a lotta ways. Like I said this was Nancy's first time in front of people since her loss, and she battles like a warrior through the set to not just go completely to pieces in the middle of every tune.
Her between-song commentary about her husband and what he meant to her is so real, I challenge anyone with a heart not to tear up during this performance.
I have a couple more tricks up my sleeve for Black History Month, so stay tuned for more gems coming soon to a page near you.
For now, though, I surely do hope you'll get next to this amazing tape, provided in homage to a hugely underrated and unforgettable vocalist I know I will adore forever.--J.
2.20.1937 - 12.13.2018