Joe Lovano on Abbey Lincoln

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Tuesday August 17, 2010

from Blue Note Records

Joe Lovano on Abbey Lincoln

“Abbey was one of the most distinctive voices in modern jazz. She told some beautiful honest stories about her life and experiences and had a way of expression that touched you in a very personal way. Abbey’s tunes and interpretations were full of meaning with each word articulated with deep passion. She was a beautiful story teller. I learned how to speak a melody playing and listening to her in a more personal way. When she called me to play on her recording ‘Over the Years’ I was excited and thrilled. It is one of the highlights of my career. I felt I was accepted into her inner circle which included Coleman Hawkins, Max Roach, Thelonious Monk and other modern jazz legends. I’ll miss seeing her and being in a room with her and her music and I will celebrate that inspiration for the rest of my life.”

Abbey Lincoln

Jazz singer, songwriter and actress Abbey Lincoln passed away on Aug. 14 in New York City, filmmaker and friend Carol Friedman — who’s working on a documentary on Lincoln — told the media. The 80-year-old died of natural causes.

“There are gorgeous women, there are spirited women, there are genius women — Abbey Lincoln was all of that,” Friedman told Billboard. “You don’t find an artist that embodies this kind of level of physical beauty and cerebral magnificence in one package.”

Lincoln released her first album, ‘Abbey Lincoln’s Affair … A Story of a Girl in Love,’ in 1956 and met instant success. Known mainly for her voice, Lincoln was also loved for her beauty and acted with Oscar winner Sidney Poitier.

However in the next few years, Lincoln changed her image and focused on the civil rights movement. She released ‘We Insist! (Freedom Now Suite),’ a collaboration with Oscar Brown, Jr., and drummer Max Roach, her future husband, in 1960. She also recorded chart-toppers ‘You Gotta Pay the Band,’ which was a collaboration with Stan Getz, and ‘Devil’s Got Your Tongue,’ a song that reprimanded comics, filmmakers and hip-hop artists who profited from the defamation of black culture.

In 2003, Lincoln was awarded Jazz Masters Award, the country’s highest jazz honor, by the National Endowment for the Arts. Lincoln released more than 20 albums on various independent record labels throughout her life. Her final record, ‘Abbey Sings Abbey,’ came out in 2007.