Since Billie Holiday was a major influence on Abbey Lincoln, it’s entirely apt that vocalist Teri Roiger, who owes a considerable debt to both, follows her 2012 tribute to Lincoln—a fine, thoughtful appreciation—with an equally imaginative salute to Holiday.
Roiger opens with a less funky but no less stirring take on Gil Scott-Heron’s “Lady Day and John Coltrane.” Later, she offers up her own paean, “Lady Day,” based on music contributed to Roiger by the late David “Fathead” Newman, dotted with Holiday touchstones, including references to Lester Young and “Don’t Explain.” Both Young and Holiday recorded “(I Don’t Stand) A Ghost of a Chance With You,” though not together. Roiger introduces her version by adding sage lyrics to Young’s solo, with Jay Collins accompanying on tenor saxophone. Young’s solo on “Fine and Mellow,” recorded with Holiday, is lyrically retraced with equal aplomb, here with support from trombonist Roswell Rudd. And she adds an interesting twist to “Them There Eyes,” inserting Ella Fitzgerald’s scat solo, again fitted with new lyrics.
Roiger bypasses Holiday’s sturdiest signatures—“Strange Fruit,” “God Bless the Child,” “Good Morning, Heartache,” “Lover Man”—filling the balance of the album with selections from across her sizeable songbook. Traveling from a wistfully tender “It’s Easy to Remember” to a laidback “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” she closes with a dusky reading of Holiday’s late-career masterpiece, “Lady Sings the Blues.”