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Lena Horne: Seasons of a Life

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Whenever a label decides to compile any singer’s late-career detritus, the results are usually about as exciting as reheated leftovers. But Lena Horne isn’t just any singer. In her Blue Note years, when age at last crept into her polished-mahogany timbre and added a welcomingly warm patina, Horne scored late-inning homers with the gorgeous likes of 1994’s We’ll Be Together Again and An Evening With Lena Horne and 1998’s Being Myself.

The 10 tracks that fill the Seasons of a Life collection of unreleased recordings are culled from throughout the Blue Note era, demonstrating that as late as 2000 Horne could still hit ’em out of the park: For proof, look no further than the tenderly bruised treatment of her signature hit, “Stormy Weather,” that concludes Seasons.

Remixed and remastered by producer Rodney Jones (Horne’s longtime guitarist), the tunes extend from the softly powerful affirmation of Marissa Dodge’s “Black Is” and Kris Kristofferson’s gently romantic “I’ve Got to Have You” to a trio of Billy Strayhorn gems. Most priceless, though, is Richard Rodney’s “I’ll Always Leave the Door a Little Open” that allows Horne, one last time, to do what she’s always done best-luxuriate in sultry double entendres with a slow, knowing wink and a sly chuckle.