Oh, how we miss Eva Cassidy…
Eva Cassidy – Live at Blues Alley (25thAnniversary Edition) – Blix Street Records 02- 1-118 – 1996 – 57:41 – ****
(Eva Cassidy – vocals, acoustic and electric guitar; Chris Biondo – bass guitar; Keith Grimes – electric guitar; Raice McLeod – drums; Lenny Williams – piano; Hilton Felton – Hammond organ (#13) )
A tragedy occurred in November, 1996, when the music world lost Eva Cassidy to melanoma. She was mostly known in greater Washington, D.C. where she performed in local clubs. She often sang with D.C “go-go” legend, Chuck Brown, but her career had not really taken off. It was only after her death at only 33 years of age, did she gain the acclaim that she was due. When BBC radio in England began singing her praise, a posthumous following for Eva took off.
It is such a shame that her glorious voice was not recognized while she was alive. Her soprano vocals were magnificent. Comparable to Laura Nyro in soulfulness, Eva could excel in R&B, jazz, and folk settings. Her version of “Over the Rainbow” helped captivate English audiences, and led to three number #1 albums in Great Britain.
Nearly five years after her death, in 2001, ABC News Nightline broadcast a short documentary on Eva’s life. Almost immediately afterward, her recorded output began to sell heavily in the United States. She now has over ten albums under her name with material recorded in the 1990s.
One of her most recognized issues is a live set of music recorded at the famous D.C club, Blues Alley. Recorded in early January, 1996, just ten months before her passing, Eva was still strong enough to put on a bravura performance. Covering a wide range of genres, ranging from show tunes, blues, Simon and Garfunkel, gospel, and folk staples, Cassidy captivates, going from tender to full blast from track to track. Whether it be “Cheek to Cheek, “Fine and Mellow,” or “Honeysuckle Rose” (which can be a bit boring and predictable in the wrong hands,) Eva makes each her own. The heat is turned up on “Stormy Monday” and “Take Me to the River.” Even “Tall Trees in Georgia,” “Fields of Gold,” and “What a Wonderful World” make a statement that Eva Cassidy could have handled the most pedestrian material, and pleased an audience.
Twenty five years after her death, it is a bittersweet experience listening to her, ready to break out to a wider audience, but knowing that she would be gone so soon after. It is a pleasure to recommend the purchase of this anniversary edition. The original album recordings have been remastered by Robert Vosgien, from the unprocessed mixes. Vosgien mastered the original album, and the updated digital mix helps bring out the range and dynamics of Eva’s vocal gifts.
Although Eva’s life was cut short before she could enjoy the fame she so richly deserved, we still have the opportunity to both recognize and appreciate her talents twenty five years later. Don’t miss the opportunity…
Cheek to Cheek
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Fine and Mellow
People Get Ready
Tall Trees in Georgia
Fields of Gold
Take Me to the River
What a Wonderful World
Oh, I Had a Golden Thread