WILLIE NELSON — My Way (review)

WILLIE NELSON — My Way album cover Album · 2018 · Vocal Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
This time Willie Nelson is doing Sinatra for his latest “My Way” who has always been of his favourites and is the second album for the prolific octogenarian this year. Buddy Cannon is back again but only co-producing this one with Matt Rollings who also in addition contributes piano, wurlitzer, B-3 organ, horn arrangements and string arrangements being almost identical in input for Willie’s last album of a similar nature in 2016, “Summertime, Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” and there is also another of Gershwin’s numbers included for this album. Only one guest is included being Norah Jones who these days makes fairly regular appearances with him appearing on the Live album with Wynton Marsalis “Here We Go Again” in 2011 and also popping up on his 2013 release of duets “To All The Girls”. Micky Raphael on harmonica is the only band member from his prior album for this year “Last Man Standing” to cross over for this one. One other interesting note is Jay Bellerose is the Jazz drummer who has appeared with so many of today’s artists including Allen Toussaint, Natalie Cole, Madeline Peyroux, Elton John, Joe Henry, Aimee Mann, Bonnie Rait, Sam Philips and that just names a few.

What else would one start with for a Sinatra album but “Fly Me To The Moon’ with the perquisite Swing injection and still keeping in touch with his Country background having Steel guitar in amongst the horns, with a quick solo also added from it in this lively swinger. Mickey’s harmonica leads for the next two Johnny Mercer tunes, “Summer Wind” and “One More For My Baby ( And One More For The Road)” all delivered with Willie’s great casual vocal approach. A lively swinging take for “A Foggy Day” with horns and that harmonica once again right amongst it all and then a lovely take with Strings to follow for the ballad “It Was A Very Good Year” . More Classic Sinatra Swing with Rodgers and Hart’s “Blue Moon” and back for another classic ballad “I’ll Be Around” followed by the swinging Cole Porter composition “Night And Day”. Cole Porter follows again for the lovely duet with Norah Jones in “What Is This Thing Called Love” with another of Sinatra’s classic ballads “Young At Heart” to bring us up the final track and title song being Sinatra’s most famous “My Way” with a beautiful interpretation from Willie adding a little of his own touch with Mickey’s harmonica adding pathos to the vocal.

How many albums has he done resurrecting the old numbers and there really is no other artist today who matches his experience with them. There has been a couple of misses with him doing this material in the past but more so due to oversupply if anything but not here. It is always hard to follow your first great one being “Stardust” but he sure comes close with this and always Willie keeps just a slight Country connection making them all his own. Once again beautiful stuff from the master.
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