CD American Classic [Digipak] (CD 4675603),
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American Classic [Digipak]
1. Nearness of You, The
2. Fly Me to the Moon
3. Come Rain or Shine
4. If I Had You
5. Ain't Misbehavin'
6. I Miss You So
7. Because of You
8. Baby, It's Cold Outside
9. Angel Eyes
10. On the Street Where You Live
11. Since I Fell for You
12. Always on My Mind
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 67197
Al Schmitt; Steve Genewick
Personnel: Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar); Norah Jones (vocals, harmonica, piano); Diana Krall (vocals, piano); Anthony Wilson (guitar); Jeff Clayton (alto saxophone); Joe Sample (piano); Jeff Hamilton , Lewis Nash (drums).
Audio Mixer: Al Schmitt.
Recording information: Capitol studios, Los Angeles, CA; Legacy Recording Studios, New York, NY.
Editors: Derik Lee; Steve Genewick.
Photographer: Danny Clinch.
Arranger: Johnny Mandel.
When Willie Nelson took the unexpected step of releasing STARDUST in 1978, many predicted that the album of popular standards would severely derail the outlaw country singer's career. Confounding the critics, the disc became Nelson's best selling effort, and spawned a whole sub-genre of modern singers covering the classics. Nelson revisited the format with 1994's orchestral HEALING HANDS OF TIME and to varying degrees on several other records, but it wasn't until 2009's AMERICAN CLASSIC that the red-headed stranger delivered an album billed as the true follow-up to STARDUST.
Released on the venerable Blue Note label, the disc features guest appearances by superstar jazz singers Norah Jones and Diana Krall, but the focus is always placed squarely on Willie's famously idiosyncratic vocals. AMERICAN CLASSIC does not feature Willie's veteran band, but rather a core group of first-call studio jazz cats including Christian McBride on bass, Joe Sample on piano, and Lewis Nash on drums. The resultant sound is smooth, classy, and subtle-a sonic horse of a different color from the exquisitely ramshackle earthiness that made STARDUST so appealing and unusual. On tunes such as the jaunty, gently swinging "On the Street Where You Live" and "Since I Fell For You," which features long time Nelson cohort Mickey Raphael on bluesy harmonica, Nelson sounds comfortable and in command, gliding effortlessly over a great set of tunes played by top-notch pros.
Down Beat (p.49) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "There's a plush vibe at work here, and making those vocal idiosyncrasies fit, Nelson's heartfelt croak creates a nice tension against the rich instrumentation."
JazzTimes (p.70) - "Nelson best flies solo, whether merrily gliding through 'Fly Me to the Moon' or descending to the gloomily reflective depths of 'Angel Eyes'..."
Dirty Linen (p.47) - "Nelson nails his best crooning in years. The arrangements are sleek and sophisticated, sprinkling in lots of ivory tinkles, soft B-3 organ squelches, and impeccable jazz guitar riffs..."
Billboard (p.32) - "[T]he real treat is a jazzy revision of 'Always on My Mind' -- it's never sounded more heartbreaking than it does here."
Pitchfork (Website) - "12 timeless melodies that bridge the gap between Nelson's love for Django Reinhardt and Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.81) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Nelson wrings pathos out of 'Come Rain or Come Shine' and plays the dirty old man to perfection in 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.87) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's a laid back pleasure to hear him slip into such familiar songs like a steady hand into a well-work favourite glove."
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Blue Note (Label) 67197
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