Nature Boy: The Standards Album

Nature Boy: The Standards Album

by Aaron Neville
     
 

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The sweet, sweet voice of New Orleans native Aaron Neville first touched the hearts of American music lovers in 1966 with the moving “Tell It like It Is.” Since then he has gone funky, rockin’, and political with his family band, the Neville Brothers; hit the top of the pop charts with smooth ballads and duets with Linda Ronstadt; and recorded two gospel CDs. There

Overview

The sweet, sweet voice of New Orleans native Aaron Neville first touched the hearts of American music lovers in 1966 with the moving “Tell It like It Is.” Since then he has gone funky, rockin’, and political with his family band, the Neville Brothers; hit the top of the pop charts with smooth ballads and duets with Linda Ronstadt; and recorded two gospel CDs. There is nothing his voice takes on that doesn’t become ethereal, so it is no shocker that this set of jazz standards, Nature Boy, is heavenly. “Summertime” is a solstice hymn, “Blame It on My Youth” is intimately confessional, and the title cut is just as mystical as Nat King Cole’s version. Neville makes no attempt to take on the styles of classic jazz vocalists; he makes the material his own. On “Cry Me a River,” Neville uses the falsetto edge of his voice to sound as if he is about to break into tears, while on “Come Rain or Come Shine” he subtly soars into joy. That ever-present wavering between power and pain in Neville’s voice gives him an effortless openness for the ballads “Since I Fell for You” and “The Very Thought of You,” on which Linda Ronstadt shares vocals. “Who Will Buy” and “In the Still of the Night” are closer to the soft pop of his very popular solo releases. But for the most part Neville is in the jazz arena for Nature Boy; the band behind him includes guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Grady Tate, with guest appearances from Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove, Ray Anderson, and Ry Cooder. Still, it's never really the band that matters; it's Aaron Neville's singular voice and how he uses it to fully commit to every song.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
Aaron Neville's voice exists in that rarefied air occupied by only the most lyrical musicians, including Paul Desmond's alto saxophone and Miles Davis' muted trumpet. Sweet and throaty, reedy and always crying, it's capable of bewitching anyone within hailing distance -- including, in some cases, the singer himself. Nature Boy: The Standards Album, his first record for Verve, is naturally a jazz/vocal date; Neville tackled a dozen songs from the popular songbook, with accompaniment from a backing trio comprised of pianist (and arranger/conductor) Rob Mounsey, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Grady Tate (plus one or two appearances each from Roy Hargrove on trumpet, Ry Cooder on guitar, and Ray Anderson on trombone). Though he has never recorded an album of pre-rock standards before, over the four decades of his career Neville has gained a deep familiarity with songs of this weight -- "Summertime," "Our Love Is Here to Stay," "In the Still of the Night," and "Cry Me a River." Understanding their power, he treats them with the utmost respect, a measure of feeling and devotion that causes him to always meet expectations but, unfortunately, never exceed them. Any Aaron Neville fan will know exactly what to expect from his version of "Summertime" or "Nature Boy" or even "Danny Boy," and Neville never displays the focused interaction between song and singer that's necessary to pull off a standard with decades of baggage attached. On several tracks, he does approach deserving the lofty term of jazz singer; he and Linda Ronstadt use their shared affection to anchor "The Very Thought of You," and the burly singer goes along for a splendid ride when the band adds a delicious hint of suspense into "The Shadow of Your Smile" (Neville's voice usually sounds better on darker material, lending a chill as when the sun passes behind a cloud). The American songbook should belong to him, an exceptional vocalist with such a deeply rooted performing persona, but it will do so only when he recognizes that the singer should never humble himself before the song.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/26/2003
Label:
Verve
UPC:
0044006563329
catalogNumber:
065633

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Aaron Neville   Primary Artist,Vocals
Ry Cooder   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Guest Appearance
Linda Ronstadt   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Ray Anderson   Trombone,Guest Appearance
Michael Brecker   Tenor Saxophone,Guest Appearance
Ron Carter   Bass
Ronnie Cuber   Bass Clarinet,Baritone Saxophone
Gil Goldstein   Accordion
Roy Hargrove   Trumpet,Flugelhorn,Guest Appearance
Rob Mounsey   Organ,Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Conductor,Drums,Keyboards,Vocals,Voices
Grady Tate   Drums
Charles Neville   Tenor Saxophone,Guest Appearance
Emily Mitchell   Harp
Dennis Anderson   Alto Flute
Julien Barber   Viola
Diane Barere   Cello
Elena Barere   Violin,Concert Master
Dave Bargeron   Trombone
Bashiri Johnson   Percussion,Conga
Randy Brecker   Flugelhorn
Kenneth Burward-Hoy   Viola
Lawrence Feldman   Alto Flute,Bass Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Crystal Garner   Viola
Juliet Haffner   Viola
Jill Jaffe   Viola
Birch Johnson   Trombone
Jeanne LeBlanc   Cello
Ann Leathers   Violin
Richard Locker   Cello
Jan Mullen   Violin
Richard Sortomme   Violin
Marti Sweet   Violin
Donna Tecco   Violin
David Tofani   Alto Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Masako Yanagita   Violin
Anahid Ajemian   Violin
Cenovia Cummins   Violin
Carol Webb   Violin
Anthony Wilson   Guitar,Classical Guitar
Yuri Vodovoz   Violin
Yana Goichman   Violin
Vince Lionti   Viola
Maura Gianini   Violin
Catherine Livolsi   Violin

Technical Credits

George Gershwin   Composer
Aaron Neville   Producer
Rob Mounsey   Arranger,Producer,Engineer
Buddy Johnson   Composer
Ray Noble   Composer
Oscar Levant   Composer
Harold Arlen   Composer
Lionel Bart   Composer
Richard Alderson   Engineer
Jim Brady   Engineer
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Arthur Hamilton   Composer
Edward Heyman   Composer
Johnny Mandel   Composer
Johnny Mercer   Composer
Dave O'Donnell   Engineer
Malcolm Pollack   Engineer
Cole Porter   Composer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
Rail Jon Rogut   Engineer
Eden Ahbez   Composer
Ron Goldstein   Executive Producer
Hollis King   Art Direction
DuBose Heyward   Composer
Peter Doris   Engineer
Mark DeBuck   Engineer
Sasha Harford   Groomer
Frederick Edward Weatherly   Composer

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