Natural Affinities

SSC3509 2003-08-26

Track List

Mingus Meditations - 12:06
I Thought About You - 5:04
Journey To Edaneres - 12:22
Bushwhacked - 8:37
Free Space - 2:52
Trilogy - 10:46
Ambrosia Mama - 8:00


Amina Claudine Myers - vocals, piano
Mark Whitecage - sax alto
Paul Broadnax - vocals, piano
Newman Baker - drums
Jeanne Lee - vocals
Gunter Hampel - vibraphone, flute
Jerome Harris - guitar
Dave Holland - bass
Wadada Leo Smith - trumpet

This is number 9 of the OWL series.
The great Jeanne Lee here collaborates with Dave Holland, Amina Claudine Myers, Gunther Hampel and Wadada Leo Smith among others.
Like many of her recordings this one is a gem. The first track alone, a duet with Dave Holland, is worth the price of admission!


This long-unavailable 1992 masterpiece by singer Jeanne Lee showcases the astonishing range and depth of the premier free-jazz vocalist of her time. Lee brought an intimate sensuality to whatever she sang, with a smooth, smoky alto voice that wrapped her material in a warm embrace. And as this diverse album shows, she could sing just about any kind of material well. She sounds as relaxed and assured swinging "I Thought About You" with singer/pianist Paul Broadnax (a cousin) as she does floating the free rhythms of trumpeter Leo Smith’s "Trilogy" or grooving Ntozake Shange’s lyrics over the Brazilian beat of "Ambrosia Mama." "Mingus Meditations," an impressive duet with bassist Dave Holland that uses a passage from Mingus’s autobiography Beneath the Underdog, drifts effortlessly between speech and improvised song.

That effortlessness was a hallmark of Lee’s singing: it gave everything an inner serenity and strength. And that’s the case here, whether she’s exploring the modal exoticism of "Journey to Edaneres" or the explosive free bop of "Free Space." The spirituality of her own lyrics alienated her from many listeners, and her long association with German multi-instrumentalist (he was also her husband) Gunter Hampel isolated her from the American jazz press, so she never really got her due. But she was a giant talent. Don’t pass this one up.