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The recording, cut in a single day in March, finds Bey in an introspective mood, balancing standards like "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Love Is Here to Stay" with some fascinating originals. There's his wordless "Dedication to Miles," a pure vocal improvisation based on Miles Davis's playing on Charlie Parker's "Cheryl," and a series of semiexistential inquiries that almost seem like notes for a sobering motivational talk. "The Demons Are After You," for example, is rather dark, as Bey tallies up life's negative forces and expounds on the need to fight them, concluding of that path: "It's an individual journey / It will never work for the masses." In "There's So Many Ways to Approach the Blues" he starts out sounding like a musicologist, delineating the stylistic variations of the form, before finally asserting that there's ultimately only way to sing them, which is to tell the truth. "Being Part of the What's Happening Now" is a series of observations about the world as Bey sees it, as he approvingly notes protests and racial harmony, while excoriating greed, but ultimately noting the need for engagement in the here and now. These originals are largely open-ended—the lyrics don't rhyme or follow any sort of fixed meter—so they almost feel like pure improvisation, something Bey has a true knack for.
On a chestnut like the Gershwins' "But Not for Me" his modulation is startling, veering from vibrato-rich pianissimo to a piercing chest-voice, marbled and shimmering in tone, and his piano work follows suit. His playing traces out the changes, but more importantly it functions as a dialogue partner with his voice, answering each line. He taps into his more energetic, swinging past with the Bey Sisters on a wonderful spin through the Fats Waller classic "The Joint is Jumpin'," while his take on "'S Wonderful," which you can check out below, underlines his mastery of straight-up, no-frills jazz singing.
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