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CD Review
Anna Givens - Mixed Nuts

Anna Givens

Mixed Nuts
Record Label: Galena Street Records
Review by Sal Serio
July 2013

The latest release by exceptional jazz vocalist Anna Givens is collection of duets with pianist Johnny O’Neal, a former member of Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers. O’Neal also portrayed Art Tatum in the 2004 movie “Ray”. The CD title ‘Mixed Nuts’ comes from the duo’s approach to recording in an intimate yet relaxed style, Givens simply naming tunes off the top of her head, and the pair nailing the performances in one or two takes, giving the document a very “live” feel, a lot like being in a nightclub except without any ambient distractions.

Givens’ smooth and smoky singing voice is perfectly suited to the material and the stripped down arrangements. Popular jazz standards of yesteryear are rejuvenated when Givens breathes new life in to them, and her delivery is straight to the mark every time.

One may look at the compositional credits – George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Fats Waller, Billie Holliday, and Duke Ellington – and think, “oh man! That’s my Mom’s kind of music!” Well, mother knows best, don’t you know? Just like fine wine, these songs have aged superbly, especially considering the care, consideration, and grace that Givens and O’Neal apply to their collaboration. These two truly epitomize the word “style”.

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