Abbey Lincoln – Over The Years

Abbey Lincoln
Over The Years
(Verve – 2000)
by Paula Edelstein

“I feel humbled by the times,” says jazz vocalist extraordinaire Abbey Lincoln when reflecting on her sumptuous and at times poignant new Verve CD OVER THE YEARS. “I don’t know what’s before us. No one knows. It’s sobering, but we’re still all-powerful human beings. If you can keep hope, you can live on. And there’s the music – it always leaves footprints in the sand.”

Lincoln, who turns 70 this year, is one of the last great jazz singers, as well as one of the music’s most gifted songwriters. Since signing with Verve in 1989, she has enjoyed a tremendous creative flowering – as a poet, songwriter, painter, actress, and singer. There’s not other jazz vocalist today who commands her authority of expression. On OVER THE YEARS, her eighth recording for Verve, she delivers ten new songs – including five that she wrote – that are luminous with meaning, musicality and humanity.

OVER THE YEARS is a reflective disc, with equal parts melancholy, joy and insight. Yet it is also an uplifting CD – filled with compassion and ultimately inspiring. At the core of the outing is Lincoln’s artistry – the power of her songwriting, and the elegance, simplicity, and heartfelt nature of her vocals.

Produced by Jean-Phillippe Allard and Daniel Richard, the CD features Lincoln’s working band (pianist Brandon McCune, bassist John Ormond and drummer Jaz Sawyer) and cameo appearances by vocalist Kendra Shank, and cellist Jennifer Vincent. Special guests include tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano on six tracks and trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez on two cuts. “They were wonderful,” she says. “They colored the songs, they seasoned them.”

As with all of her performances – live and recorded – wells of deep emotion and fountains of mature wisdom characterize Abbey Lincoln’s music. She’ll have it no other way. “How can you have a career and never say anything, to experience it all and not say a word?” she says. “You’re supposed to stand up and speak your mind. People need to hear some reality. Now, I’m not trying to save or fix the world. I’m just singing about what I’m experiencing. All these songs are observations.”

With the authority of her years, her musical and her human understanding, Abbey Lincoln sheds light on every song she sings. OVER THE YEARS is the consummation to date of her life’s mastery of word, music, and performance. It’s at once a thought provoking and a life-affirming “State of the Soul” address. For more information on other releases by Abbey Lincoln, visit