The Music & The Magic of Ms. Abbey Lincoln
The great Abbey Lincoln once said, “Being a singer on stage is the best job in the world.” One of the great American jazz vocalists, Lincoln was not only an incredible performer of jazz standards, but also a talented songwriter in her own right. Jenna Mammina takes on the big task of covering her songs in The Music & The Magic of Ms. Abbey Lincoln. It is always a treat to witness the ways different artists reinterpret the work of those that came before them. Here, Mammina’s bright and clear voice brings lightness to Lincoln’s music. The ensemble cast that accompanies her emphasizes emotional sensitivity and clarity of sound. But what comes out the strongest from Mammina’s performances of Lincoln is the sense of intimacy and vulnerability she brings. These are highly emotional interpretations, whether joyful and uplifting or somber and reflective. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Cookie Marenco, the sense of intimacy that Mammina brings to her performances is heightened by the sound recording itself, which is warm and organic and feels as close to having a private concert as you can get.
Mammina’s rendition of “Rainbow” is full of joy. You can imagine yourself sitting at an outdoor café in Paris on a lazy Sunday, the sun finally shining after a spell of rain. “Down Here Below” opens with Mammina singing a capella. It is a haunting, melancholy performance that tugs at the heart strings. Pianist John R. Burr accompanies Mammina with such tenderness, heightening the beauty of the composition and the performance itself. “I Got Thunder” rounds the album out with an easy, swinging feel. The instrumentation is unique with classic piano comping and a walking bass line but accented with the twang of a dobro guitar. The effect is refreshing, bringing a little slice of Americana aesthetics to the jazz piece.