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Straight Ahead

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Released in 1961 Straight Ahead is very much a document of its time, capturing the spirit of the rising civil rights movement. But in a real sense, it transcends its era by virtue of Lincoln’s visceral performances and the artistic substance of its music overall. Backed by a phenomenal band including drummer (and future husband) Max Roach, saxophonists Coleman Hawkins and Eric Dolphy and trumpeter Booker Little, Lincoln embraces her songs with palpable feeling and an unerring sense of drama. She combines a cabaret artist’s sophistication with the down-home fervor of a gospel singer on “When Malindy Sings” and “In the Red.” “Blue Monk,” “Retribution” and the title number draw upon Lincoln’s growing talents as a lyricist to mix personal confession with larger social and political implications. Lincoln’s impeccable players shine individually, with Hawkins’ incisive sax solo on “Left Alone” and Dolphy’s ethereal flute lines on “African Lady” casting an especially potent spell. This is music for an unfolding struggle, meant to both inspire and shatter illusions.


Born: 06 August 1930 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

As with her hero Billie Holiday, Abbey Lincoln always meant the lyrics she sang. A dramatic performer whose interpretations were full of truth and insight, Lincoln actually began her career as a fairly lightweight supper-club singer. She went through several name changes (including Anna Marie, Gaby Lee, and Gaby Woolridge) before settling on Abbey Lincoln. She recorded with Benny Carter in 1956 and performed a number in the 1957 Hollywood film The Girl Can't Help It. Lincoln's first of three albums...
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Straight Ahead, Abbey Lincoln
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