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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Freedom and Surrender

CONCORD 0888072372207



  1. Freedom

  2. The Game

  3. The New Game

  4. Lean In

  5. Right Where You Are

  6. River Man

  7. Somewhere Down The Mystic

  8. Real Life Painting

  9. To Love Somebody

  10. Here And Now

  11. You

  12. Blessed And The Brave

  13. Surrender

Lizz Wright - Vocals

Gregory Porter - Vocals (track 5)

Till Brönner - Flugelhorn (track 6)

Jesse Harris, Dean Parks - Guitar

Kenny Banks, Billy Childs - Keyboards

Pete Kuzma - Hammond organ

Don Lutz - Bass

Vinnie Colaiuta - Drums

Pete Korpela - Percussion

It's been a while since Lizz Wright's last album, five years in fact. Previously she recorded for Verve, for whom she had four releases, but this is her debut CD for Concord. This one has, as producer, Larry Klein who has performed that function for a whole cohort of female singers. At first, the idea was to focus on cover versions but, as it has turned out, many of the songs were penned by Wright herself, in association with others. The 35 year old singer originally had a sound apprenticeship in gospel and there are clear traces, in her singing style, of her beginnings to this day. Nevertheless, it's not easy to locate where, in the jazz/blues/folk/pop/soul/country borderlands, she most truly belongs. Maybe, we should just gratefully receive her music and leave definitions out of it!

On the love song Right Where You Are, she is joined by the rich tones of Gregory Porter for one of the highlight tracks. Nick Drake's River Man, already explored in a jazz context by pianist Brad Mehldau, is tastefully delivered by Wright who manages to hit the right note of pathos inherent in the lyrics. There's a haunting flugelhorn accompaniment from Till Brönner, too. There is another successful cover version, this time of the Bee Gees' To Love Somebody, to follow. A further track that stands out is The Game where we come to appreciate Lizz Wright's versatility. Here, there's a gentler perspective at work and it makes an informative contrast with Freedom, where Wright has demonstrated how powerful her voice and delivery can be. I also liked Somewhere Down The Mystic, which is blessed with an imaginative arrangement and an altogether appealing performance by Lizz.

I'm sure that Lizz Wright's numerous fans will be ecstatic about this latest release. If I have any reservations, they lie in the occasional track which is a bit too languid for my taste. But hey, this is a fine singer in company with quality musicians. Incidentally, my review copy was lacking in information as to who the musicians were on the disc. The listings above, therefore, were gleaned from a variety of sources and may be incomplete.

James Poore

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