Nnenna Freelon – Tales of Wonder

Nnenna Freelon
Tales of Wonder

(Concord – 2002)
by Carmen Miller

Known for her innovative interpretations, Nnenna Freelon’s latest CD takes us on a musical journey through the mind and heart of Stevie Wonder. The is the first vocal album ever done in tribute to the musical genius and Nnenna does it wonderfully! You can just feel the happiness in her rendering of Overjoyed. Superstition is slower than the original, giving it a boost of funk while allowing more room for Nnenna to stamp it with her own inimitable style, falling off into a gritty scat match with bassist Gerald Veasly and altoist Gerard Niewood at one point. All In Love Is Fair is filled with depth, Dave Samuels vibe smoothly sauntering along side Freelon’s emotional vocal… I had to play this one twice before I went on.

The mellow guitar of Chuck Loeb opens Lately which proceeds in a noticably latin vein. On Tears of a Clown she begins to stretch out, allowing her vocal range and control to scuplt the tune. The tracks go on and on…Bird of Beauty, Send One Your Love, Another Star.. all transformed by Nnenna Frelon’s interpretive style and accentuated by a group of fine musicians. The full title of this CD is Tales of Wonder: Celebrating Stevie Wonder and that describes it best… a Celebration. There’ll be at least one more Grammy nomination coming from this production.