The World According to Andy Bey – High Note Records HCD7253, 50:37 ****:
(Andy Bey – piano and vocals)
Andy Bey is one of those vocalists who every jazz enthusiast knows but is not generally well-known. He has been performing since he was 17 when he formed a trio with his two sisters called Andy And The Bey Sisters. When the group broke up in 1967, Bey went out on his own as a sometime pianist with Horace Silver and Gary Bartz, and then doing his own thing as a pianist/vocalist. It is in this last configuration that Bey emerges with The World According To Andy Bey, his first release since 2007.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the context (piano/vocals) and the material that Bey has chosen, most of the compositions are sung as ballads or in slower tempos. The two exceptions are Fats Waller’s “The Joint Is Jumpin’” and the George Gershwin standard “’S’ Wonderful” both of which are offered in a slightly more robust fashion than all the other tunes. The Waller opus has more bounce, given the engaging and witty lyric.
Unadorned, and supported by his own minimalist piano-playing, Bey’s baritone voice has a swooping throaty tone, but filled with a dramatic command of resonance and texture. Using all his proficiency, Bey leads off this session with a surely attuned rendition of “It Never Entered My Mind” which is faultlessly followed by the George and Ira Gershwin classic “But Not For Me”. Bey’s skill with vocalese is brought into sharp relief with his own composition “Dedicated To Miles”, which is just one of several of his own tunes that populate the album. Songs such as “The Demons Are After You”, “There’s So Many Ways To Approach The Blues” and “Being Part Of What’s Happening Now” are word-stories more talked thru than sung, but still replete with expressiveness.
Andy Bey is an adroit and fascinating vocalist who teases the best out of his material to give his listeners an invigorating experience.
TrackList: It Never Entered My Mind; But Not For Me; Dedicated To Miles; The Demons Are After You; Love Is Here To Stay; There’s Are So Many Ways To Approach The Blues; The Joint Is Jumpin’; Being Part Of What’s Happening Now; The Morning After; ‘S Wonderful; Dissertation On The State Of Bliss