July 30th – Nancy Wilson – Over The Weekend

Lush Life was the first Nancy Wilson album I ever bought and I remember being particularly struck by this track.  It was written in 1952 by John Benson Brooks and Joseph Allen McCarthy.  Brooks wrote the music for both Where Flamingos Fly and You Came A Long Way From St Louis (some range!) and McCarthy the lyrics for I’m Gonna Laugh You Out Of My Life (his father, also Joseph, wrote the words for You Made Me Love You and I’m Always Chasing Rainbows so quite the pedigree there).

Over The Weekend was first recorded by Mabel Mercer and Johnny Mathis picked up on it a decade later (quite the underrated song curator our Mr Mathis – check out his 60s albums).  The song remained in his repertoire for some time as a heartfelt interpretation from 1978 on YouTube attests.  Dianne Reeves revived it on When You Know in 2008.

I remember the now defunct Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD being absolutely vitriolic about the Lush Life album and Wilson does seem to infuriate the jazz police – somewhat unfairly since she publicly eschewed the title ‘jazz singer’ in favour of ‘stylist’ and actively chose to sing in jazz, blues, pop and soul idioms as her mood and the market took her.  Her style can be quite baroque with lots of swoops, growls, purrs and gospel inflections but she can be subtle and very swingy on her small group sides.  Many singers revere her – not least because of the extraordinary range of vocal colours she has at her disposal and her ability to combine emotion and technique.  With arrangements by Billy May, Sid Feller and Oliver Nelson (May in this instance), Lush Life is undoubtedly Wilson’s plushest album and the sea of strings do work well against some of her most dramatic interpretations of what are, largely, a set of art and cabaret songs with a few jazz standards thrown in for good measure.