Nancy Wilson: With Cannonball Adderley & George Shearing

Reissue of two Wilson albums from 1960-61 omits the instrumentals but good jazz by Shearing, the Adderley brothers and Eddie Costa remains

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In 1960 and 1961 respectively, an up-and-coming young female vocalist made two promising LPs: Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley and The Swingin’s Mutual – the latter with the George Shearing quintet.

Both releases, which included instrumental tracks by Cannon and Shearing, were favourably reviewed by most critics. Downbeat asserted that “Miss Wilson has a reasonably good range, excellent control, and a fresh, unselfconscious manner. Her style falls somewhere between Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington”.

Now Waxtime have combined the two albums (minus the instrumental pieces) on a high-resolution vinyl disc, attractively packaged and including the original liner notes. Adderley and/or Shearing enthusiasts may regret the omission of the instrumental tracks, but should lend an ear to the accompanying and solo skills of Adderley and Shearing with their respective cohorts – especially Nat Adderley and Eddie Costa.

There is little to choose between the merits of these sessions. On the Adderley date, Nancy shows the Washingtonian influence – try her versions of The Masquerade Is Over and/or A Sleepin’ Bee.

Before this studio session, Cannon remembered her singing at a Columbus, Ohio, night club where he was appearing with Rusty Bryant’s band: “Nancy did some tunes that night, unrehearsed off-the-top-of-the-head stuff . . . she had so much to offer – tone, style, confidence – I felt sure she had to go a long way.” Their 1961 date confirmed his prediction.

Her meeting with the Shearing quintet also received the leader’s stamp of approval: “It was a kick-and-a-half arranging for her, making sure that this album would exploit her fine talent to the fullest.” The outstanding tracks are On Green Dolphin Street, The Things We Did Last Summer, All Night Long and My Gentleman Friend.

These were the first jazz albums that Wilson made before moving to pop, R&B and TV appearances and recording string-laden albums for Capitol, although she maintained her jazz interest until her death in 2018. 

Discography
(1) Save Your Love For Me; Never Will I Marry; The Old Country; Happy Talk; The Masquerade Is Over; A Sleepin’ Bee; Little Unhappy Boy ((19.45) – (2) On Green Dolphin Street; The Nearness Of You; Born To Be Blue; All Night Long; The Things We Did Last Summer; Let’s Live Again; Ghost Of Yesterday; My Gentleman Friend (20.12)
(1) Wilson (v) on all tracks with: Cannonball Adderley (as); Nat Adderley (c); Joe Zawinul (p); Sam Jones (b); Louis Hayes (d). New York City, 27 & 29 June 1960.
(2) Shearing (p); Eddie Costa (vib); Dick Garcia (g); George Duvivier (b); Walter Bolden (d). Capitol Studios, New York, 29 June, 5 July & 6 July 1960.
Waxtime 772310