It’s almost unbelievable that the voice of 80-year-old Lena Horne has retained much of its characteristic warmth and color. But proof can be heard on this collection of songs from Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Frankie Laine and others. Though there are moments where Horne’s strength, purity and range may not match what’s heard on her RCA recordings of some 40 years ago, her vibrant, theatrical way of presenting a lyric is today even sharper, resulting in that rare document where the nostalgia and melancholy emerge with genuine feeling.
Her sense of drama is most apparent as she delivers in conversational tones the message “Some of My Best Friends Are the Blues,” as she marvels at the memories of “Autumn in New York,” as she poignantly asks “How Long Has This Been Going On?,” when she ponders what happens “After You.” While too much is required of her voice on “Willow Weep for Me,” the song underscores her punctual phrasing and sophisticated sense of swing.
Straight-ahead backing by a combo of guitar (played by producer Rodney Jones), sax and organ gives the date a bluesy, minimalist feel. In a world of flash-in-the-pan pop stars and overnight sensations, Horne endures as an exquisite interpreter of the American popular song.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good), four stars (excellent).