Queen Latifah, etc: Bessie-Music From The HBO Film

I have not seen the HBO film “Bessie” which is based on the life and music of Bessie Smith. Judging by this sound track, it seems like a great bet. Queen Latifah plays the role of The Empress of the Blues, and she sounds riveting on an earthy “ Young Woman’s Blues,” and a growling “Long Old Road” that have her with a vintage sounding small band. Even more enthralling is when she goes it alone with just pianist Lawrence Sieberth as she shouts out field hollers on “Work House Blues” and grabs you by the throat on “Down Hearted Blues.” There are a couple bona fide instrumentals that sound like they could spin on a 78 rpm by Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks on “Hot Time in the Old Town” and “I’ve Got What it Takes.” Cecile McLorin Savant sounds very Billie Holiday-ish as she smoothly swings on “Laugh, Clown Laugh” which is probably from a scene when Smith’s blues were slowly going out of fashion. Some vintage material from Louis Armstrong, Sippie Wallace and Fats Waller are included here, and fit in well, showing that the new material was done respectfully, but without sounding sterile. Thoroughly enjoyable.



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