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December 2007

Andy Bey
Ain’t Necessarily So
12th Street

At last, a successor to Andy Bey’s sublime Tuesdays in Chinatown and even finer American Song. Well, sort of. This choppily edited but otherwise brilliant 67-minute session dates from a full decade ago, recorded live in New York at Birdland, right around the time the singer/pianist was riding his first wave of “comeback” success after the release of Ballads, Blues & Bey. For this date, Bey’s trio-mates are the two Washingtons, bassist Peter and drummer Kenny, who have since become pillars of the Bill Charlap Trio. Typical of a Bey outing, he lends his silken baritone—then, as now, one of the richest, most magnificent instruments in jazz—equally to exquisite readings of classics (“All the Things You Are,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart,” the title track) and obscure delights deserving of wider recognition (Mary Rodgers and Martin Charnin’s petal-soft “Hey, Love,” Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s wistful reflection on a hasty break up, “On Second Thought”). But the pièce de résistance is the set’s penultimate selection, an eight-and-a-half-minute journey through “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” that’s so nakedly raw, so achingly proud, it would make Tom Joad weep in recognition.

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Todd Boebel

Andy Bey

Originally published in December 2007
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