Kim Nalley – Blues People | Album Review

kimnalleycdKim Nalley –¬†Blues People

Self Release

14 songs time-71:29

Kim Nalley, a San Francisco, California based chanteuse presents a deep musical interpretation of African-American history and culture. Her songs touch on musical history as well as current events. The program is essentially that of a cabaret singer. The presentation has the feel of an intimate live performance. The band composition is pretty basic-keyboards, drums, guitar and bass used in various configurations. Kim’s voice is very versatile and enjoyable, although at times she draws more attention to her vocal gymnastics, veering away from the songs intended structure. That’s only a minor quibble as she possesses a very attractive and seductive voice. Her backing band handles blues, jazz, ballads, gospel and everything else with great talent and taste.

The classic “Summertime” receives a dramatic and drawn out delivery accompanied solely by Tammy Hall’s effective piano. Kim’s sensual vocalizing is fine, but she deconstructs the song to where the melody is nowhere to be found. The song is more about her showing off her voice.

Two songs, “Big Hooded Black Man” and Ferguson Blues” comment on the recent killings of unarmed blacks boys. In her impassioned pleas for justice in the latter song she fails to explain the reasoning behind the justification of the rioters destroying the property of innocent people.

The Eddie Harris and Les McCann medley of “Listen Here/Cold Duck/Compared To What?” is a refreshing jazz excursion utilizing the entire ensemble to great effect. She offers up two version’s of Mahalia Jackson’s spiritual classic “Trouble Of The World”, one with piano only and the other with the full band.

Kim Gives a gospel-y rendition of The Jeffersons television show theme song “Movin’ On Up”, turning it into an African-American anthem. A blues meets jazz treatment is given to “Never Make Your Move Too Soon”, a song associated with the late B.B. King. Guitarist Greg Skaff manades a close approximation of B.B.’s guitar style, then turns to a jazzier approach later in the song.

She gives an extra sexy double entendre delivery to Bessie Smith’s classic “Sugar In My Bowl”. Next up in this trio of bawdy songs is Dinah Washington’s “Trombone Song(Big Long Sliding Thing)” that is given a nice jazz ensemble reading. Lastly in the trio is Ruth Brown’s “The Chair Song(If I Can’t Sell It)” that clocks in at just over nine minutes, featuring solos by most of the band members.

Etta James’ “Sunday Kind Of Love” is done up in a lovely fashion. “Amazing Grace” is given a similar treatment as “Summertime” were the melody is nowhere to be found, accompanied only by Tammy Hall’s organ. Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” is treated to a nice gospel-y version, closing out the record.

Kim’s years of performing and collaborating with the likes of David “Fathead” Newman, Houston Person, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra among others has paid off, as she has created a rich tapestry of music associated with African-American culture. She has chosen top-shelf musicians to prop up her musical vision. The listener is treated to a live sounding night club performance in the privacy of their own living room…Nicely done!

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