Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Queen Latifah: The Dana Owens Album

Queen Latifah

All re-hail the Queen? Dexterous hip-hopper turned TV host turned Oscar-nominated actress Queen Latifah would like to think so now that she’s moving into another career phase, reinventing herself as a latter-day Dinah Washington with The Dana Owens Album (Flavor Unit). Truth is, though, Latifah’s latest isn’t so much a bold move forward as a big step in reverse, all the way back to her first hit rap single, “Wrath of My Madness,” whose sung choruses suggested that the embers of a first-rate torch singer have long burned beneath Owens’ (her real name) bombastic surface.

As a major multimedia star whose every move gains scrutiny in the entertainment press, Latifah isn’t taking chances while reshaping herself as a pop-jazz diva, a role she says she’ll remain committed to until death or Vegas, whichever comes first. She can afford, and hired, the best producers in the biz-Arif Mardin for half of the album’s dozen tracks, Ron Fair on five others and Take 6’s Mervyn Warren to help guide her through the tricky curves of “Lush Life”-the best sidemen (guitarist John Goux, drummer Peter Erskine, saxophonist Dan Higgins, trumpeter Gary Grant and trombonist Dick Nash among them) and stellar guests such as Al Green, James Moody and Herbie Hancock.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published