Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trav'lin' Light

The first time I remember hearing Queen Latifah she was rapping with sass and unabashed confidence on All Hail the Queen and I was smitten at once. I was smitten all over again the first time I heard her sing as part of her stellar turn in the underappreciated 1998 movie Living Out Loud. Her first CD of pop and jazz singing, The Dana Owens Album, was a treat and now she’s back with another tasty outing on a collection of classic jazz, pop, and blues tunes.

Trav’lin’ Light kicks off with a fine cover of Phoebe Snow’s “Poetry Man” and then slides smoothly into the rueful “Georgia Rose”, a bluesy ballad featuring some very distinctive, very accomplished harmonica by the ever-amazing Stevie Wonder. The immortal Toots Thielemans adds sweet harmonica harmony to the lilting “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.”

Latifah is just as home in the down home blues of “Don’t Cry Baby” as she is with the big band swing of Peggy Lee’s “I Love Being Here with You” and the propulsive jazz of “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die”. She is elegantly sublime on the title tune aided and abetted with some nice piano work by Joe Sample and appropriately saucy on her take on Nina Simone’s frisky “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl”.

10cc’s dream pop hit “I’m Not in Love” is effectively transformed into a big soul ballad while Smokey Robinson’s “What Love Has Joined Together” is presented as a grand mid-tempo jam and she steps right into the funky, sassy spirit of the Pointer Sisters’ “How Long (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side)”. “Gone Away”, co-written by Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield, is another sweetly soaring soul ballad that the Queen knocks out of the park.

The disc ends with “I Know Where I’ve Been”, Latifah’s uplifting showstopper from the movie Hairspray .

Trav’lin’ Light is a wonderful little disc that is destined to spend a great deal of time in my CD player. (See video snippets of some of the songs below.)


Very Anonymous Mike said...

Once upon a time, totally by accident, and once and ONLY one did I stumble upon a video of hers where she did a remix of David Bowie's "Fame." I think it was called "Fame 90." You ever see it? At the time, I loved it, but was never able to find it.

Scott said...

Hmmm . . . I never listened to the Queen's rap, even though I love rap music (just like Toby Mac). But I also love me some jazz music, so maybe I'll check this one out!

Hey, man! I just saw your picture. You have that other blog where you write all those romantic stories. This is the first time that Blog Soldiers has landed me on this other blog of yours!

Keep up the good writing and you just might get yourself blogrolled!