An Evening With Lena Horne: Live At The Supper Club

Lena Horne

Blue Note Records, 2010

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


There are two types of female jazz singers. One is bold, brassy, and bright (think Keely Smith) and the other is smaller and more conversational.

Lena Horne is definitely type two. Her style is intimate, almost talking jazz; despite having a lovely voice, quite often she goes into a sort of speech mode when singing with very little actual melody. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 An Evening With Lena Horne: Live At The Supper Club was originally recorded in 1994 and won a Grammy in 1996 for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. This review is from the re-release after Horne’s death in 2010.

And honestly, I’m not sure why.

I love Lena Horne’s singing voice; this is not my first rodeo in appreciating one of the greatest jazz vocalists of the last hundred years. But on this album, her style seems sloppy, amelodic, and meandering. There’s just no real consistency to it; she’ll go completely off script on some jazz standards (her version of “Do Nothin’ ‘Til You Hear From Me” is almost unrecognizable). Her voice is still golden when she sings, but too often she’s not singing, and that’s a disappointment.

There are a few standouts on Supper Club. Her version of “I’ve Got The World On A String” is gentle and thoughtful, with some astonishingly lovely baritone sax from John C. Williams. I can also get behind “Yesterday When I Was Young”; it’s plain Horne was putting a great deal of her own emotions about her tumultuous life in the song, and it shows; she does a delicate dance with Rodney Jones’ guitar.

The rest of it, though? There are better versions of these songs available, many of them on Horne’s other recordings. This release should only be a target for serious Horne completists; the rest of us can start with Sony Music’s excellent The Essential Lena Horne and go from there.

Rating: D+

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