Tuesdays in Chinatown
It just isn't fair. While lesser mortals churn out album after album with stupefying alacrity, Andy Bey fans are continually left in a state of restless anticipation. First there was that interminable drought preceding the release of 1996's sublime Ballads, Blues & Bey, then two more years of silence before the arrival of the equally exquisite Shades of Bey. Now, after another three-year absence, along comes Tuesdays in Chinatown. As ever, it was worth the wait.
Over the years, every laudatory adjective in the book has been ascribed to Bey's rich, earthy baritone, but only one will do: luxurious. He is cognac and cashmere, sable and sirloin.
On Ballads, Bey stuck exclusively to enduring standards. On Shades, he opted for musical roads less traveled. This time around, he's decided to split the difference, devoting equal attention to paths familiar and new. The results are uniformly superb. Chinatown's 10 gems include a double salute to Milton Nascimento, a gossamer treatment of Sting's "Fragile" and a satisfying bellyful of Broonzy blues on "Feelin' Lowdown." Bey also delivers a sumptuous "I'll Remember April," and wrings every ounce of disappointment from "Little Girl Blue" without adding a drop of acrimony. Then there's the title track, a languorous account of a 20-year affair that manages to simultaneously embrace the soft folds and hard realities of illicit love. Spectacular.