That svelte figure and heart-shaped face embody more than just the sensuality one might expect but also a voice and artistic confidence that's as daunting as it is seductive. Cynthia Felton is marrow-deep invested in the classics, her earlier discs re-exposing the work of Oscar Brown Jr., Duke Ellington, and an array of jazz standards bearers. Those releases attracted an arresting roster of top shelf musicians to Save Your Love in unusual configurations that set no ensemble firmly as touchstone but only the virtues of excellence and vibrancy. I mean, good Lord!, look at only a part of the roster: Patrice Rushen, Ronald Muldrow, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Ndugu Chancler, Ernie Watts, Munyoungo Jackson, John Beasly, Wallace Roney, and many others. Someone fetch the smelling salts, I'm feeling faint.
It was more than a mutual love of the celebrated Nancy Wilson that got all these folks together, the artistic respect for such an interpreter as Felton was equally strong. Take for instance the long killer Robert Hurst bass solo in Dearly Beloved, after which Cynthia comes flying in with Ripperton-esque skylarking scat, percussionist Tain fragmenting the ground beneath her and Hurst's feet, yet they keep dancin' 'n boppin', she picking up the lyrics again at the end of that long and very hip middle eight. Felton's voice is just under a four octave range and gives her plenty of room to experiment and invent, so she does, time and again. She also executive produced, produced, and arranged everything (to the side, she holds a doctorate degree as well!!!), choosing the sagacious Al Schmitt to mix the affair, which is transparent and 3-D.
Nancy Wilson recorded a staggering 50 LPs, and picking an 11-spot of tunes for this assemblage wasn't an easy task, but Felton started with 1960's Guess Who I Saw Today, Nance's signature, and moved forward, grabbing the 1954 A Sleepin' Bee (Truman Capote, co-lyricist) from Wilson's '61 rendition with Cannonball Adderly. West Coast Blues, my favorite cut, reminding one of Chaka Khan in a really spunky mood. Felton captures much of Wilson's spirit and inflections everywhere, and we have to wonder what a duet with the two would have been like…or rather, sigh!, one dreams such things. But regardless, the stellar accompaniment bolstering Felton's gamboling and balladry makes Save Your Love for Me achieve the level of a very hip Vegas cabaret concert…and the really nice side feature is that you don't have to stand in an interminable line, watch preening celebs take cuts, pay half a million simolians for the tickets, or buy the 30 drink minimum; you get just about everything without all the nonsense, as much as you want and for as long as you want. That's the miracle of CDs.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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