Nancy Wilson's not the first name in bluesy jazz (check out Dinah Washington and Joe Williams for that), but she usually can enliven the form with her sophisticated and sultry style. That's made clear on her rendition of "Stormy Monday Blues," where she eschews blues clichés in favor of a husky airiness, at once referencing a lowdown mood and infusing it with a sense of buoyancy. This split is nicely essayed on Capitol's Blues and Jazz Sessions, as half the tracks ooze with Wilson's cocktail blues tone and the other find the jazz-pop chanteuse in a summery and swinging mood. Ranging from the big band blues of "I've Got Your Number" to the lilting bossa nova "Wave," Wilson handles all the varying dynamics and musical settings with aplomb. Featuring cuts from her '60s prime with the likes of Cannonball Adderley, Oliver Nelson, George Shearing, Gerald Wilson, and a host of top sidemen, this best-of disc offers a fine, off-the-beaten-path overview of Wilson's Capitol heyday.
It's hard to believe that Morning Glory Ramblers is the first full-length recording by Norman and Nancy Blake in eight years. Certainly they've been active, from playing on all 47 Down From the Mountain dates, performing on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Cold Mountain soundtracks, June Carter Cash's final album, Wildwood Flower, and various other projects. This album, recorded on the soundstage of the Western Jubilee Warehouse in Colorado Springs, is a dynamite setting for the material found here. There are 17 songs in this collection, seven of them traditional melodies, still others so old they've seldom been heard over the last century, a Hank Williams' tune, and a couple by friends of Norman and Nancy's that are so saturated in the deep country, they could have been written decades before.