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Better Than Anything: The Quintessential Nnenna Freelon

Nnenna Freelon

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Album Review

Nnenna Freelon has recorded for the Concord label since 1996. Better Than Anything has some of the high points from her first nine years with the company, drawing its dozen selections from six previously released CDs. Freelon had developed into an individual voice and a subtle improviser before she hooked up with Concord but she has grown in depth ever since, being increasingly willing to take chances and stretch herself into other idioms while staying true to her jazz vision. On Better Than Anything, seven of the dozen selections are jazz standards, with "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Balm in Gilead" being among the exceptions. But even such tunes as "Them There Eyes" (taken from a project that had modernized versions of Billie Holiday-associated songs) and "Body and Soul" sound different than expected. The most joyful performance is "Straighten Up and Fly Right," which teams Freelon with Take 6. They should record a full-length project someday. Better Than Anything is an excellent all-round sampler, although Nnenna Freelon's best fans will prefer to obtain her original CDs individually.

Biography

Born: July 28, 1954 in Cambridge, MS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Nnenna Chinyere Freelon is a world-renowned jazz vocalist; she has recorded extensively and been nominated for numerous Grammy Awards. While this doesn't necessarily set her apart from other more prolific female jazz singers, there is one aspect of her career that does: she didn't begin recording until she was in her late thirties. She was born in Cambridge, MA, in 1954 as Nnenna Chinyere Pierce. She began singing at an early age in church, but didn't pursue music as a career until decades later....
Full Bio
Better Than Anything: The Quintessential Nnenna Freelon, Nnenna Freelon
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