If you read much about jazz singer Andy Bey, you’ll come across references to the soft palate, his four-octave range and the way he “integrates the head and chest voices.” But I don’t understand much of that technical stuff.
To me, his voice just sounds elemental. It’s a flame that stretches tall and then gutters to a glow. It’s this ripening cloud, moving slow over a wide muddy river. It’s a valley of rich dark loam. It’s fascinating to hear him take the baggage of Strayhorn and Mercer into this new landscape. I imagine it’d be just as interesting to hear him talk about his own travels. By the time he was 5, he was playing boogie-woogie piano in the clubs of Newark. At 12, he shared the stage at the Apollo with Louis Jordan. The group he formed with his sisters was celebrated in Paris, and recorded in Nashville by Chet Atkins. Collaborations with Horace Silver and Gary Bartz followed, and then, for more than 2 decades, silence. A 1996 comeback record marked the start of a new path, one that brings him to Rochester for a performance at the Clarion Riverside Hotel on Friday May 23rd.
For a preview, tune in to hear him sing Satin Doll, Lush Life and Speak Low on my jazz show What's New, Saturday at 9pm and Sunday at 10pm on AM 1370, and Sunday at 8pm on WRUR 88.5FM.