Few remember Billy Eckstine as a bebop pioneer whose orchestra in the early ’40s ignited the careers of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon. Instead, Eckstine is remembered for an entirely different sort of pioneering, as the first black balladeer to earn enormous crossover popularity. It was Eckstine who paved the way for Nat King Cole. So it makes absolute sense that Freddy, whose subdued elegance so strongly echoes his elder brother’s, would shape this tribute. He is, after Nat, the logical heir to the Eckstine throne. But the appropriateness of the salute is secondary to the delivery. And the delivery is not just impeccable but rather profound.
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