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

Willie Nelson: American Classic

Willie Nelson

His voice, tough and tender as well-aged boot leather, is one of the most recognizable across the wide plateaus of American pop, country and jazz. Unaffected, unadorned and blessedly unpretentious, his is a gut-level musical honesty that knows few equals. Willie Nelson sings what he believes and believes what he sings. It’s that (deceptively) simple.

The album’s title is obviously intended to describe both artist and repertoire as Nelson, for the first time since recording the momentous Stardust 30 years ago (and opening the door for an endless parade of lesser crossover artists to invade the Great American Songbook), fills the entire album with standards. A more laidback outing than Two Men With the Blues, last year’s sterling teaming with Wynton Marsalis, American Classic finds Nelson deservedly at the center of an exemplary assemblage of talent, beginning with producer Tommy LiPuma and arranger Johnny Mandel (for four of 12 selections), and including bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash, pianist Joe Sample, guitarist Anthony Wilson and, on two tracks, harmonica player Mickey Raphael.

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