Nature Boy: The Standards Album

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
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.
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/26/2003
  • Label: Verve
  • UPC: 044006563329
  • Catalog Number: 065633
  • Sales rank: 92,222

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Aaron Neville Primary Artist, Vocals
Ry Cooder Acoustic Guitar, 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
Darcy Proper Mastering
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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