It was the sound. It was always the sound. The sound of heartbreak and loneliness … the cry. Ray had it, Billie had it and Hank definitely had it. A voice that was at once seductive and commanding, inviting you in and telling you to sit down, shut up and listen. All it took was one note and you knew. For me the album was From the Heart and the tune was “Don’t Cry Baby.” It stopped me in my tracks. The tempo was incredibly slow. The arrangement was stark: bass, drums, four horns, a guitar playing a Freddie Green rhythm and Hank on alto. He played the melody simply, leaving big space. I was 11 or 12 years old, and that was it for me.
Hank Crawford was a huge influence on me, not just musically but personally too. He always appeared so cool with that skinny look in classy tailored suits. He showed such refined taste and elegance. It was that combination of simplicity and sophistication that got to me.