Recording artists have a way of embedding themselves into our collective consciousness. It’a clear, from the outpouring of sentiment about blues singer Etta James’ passing, that she had a special talent for touching people deeply. And what better tribute to her talent than to be singled out among the very large pantheon of iconic perfomers (See this posting’s slide show)
Take a few minutes now and read how she impressed Vallejo musician, Bryan Girard. Below he shares his favorite ‘Etta’ moments: :
“Although I’m primarily a jazz musician, I spent the early ’60s playing in the topless clubs on Broadway. Back then R&B was the popular music of the day and we had some truly great bands on the street six nights a week. I loved that music and giants like Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Etta James were my heros. Etta is gone now but we’re left with a vast repository of her music.”
Girard’s ‘Etta’ favorites
“Choosing one or two favorite Etta James tracks is virtually impossible–there are so many astonishing recordings–but I’ve tried to come up with a list of five that represent a few of EJ’s moods. (All are posted on YouTube.)”
1. Tell Mama (See it by clicking on the video to the left of this frame)–“This is the the very essence of soul music. She’s in top voice accompanied with a smokin’ band, complete with horn section. I defy your readers to sit still while listening to this one.”
2. Love’s Been Rough on Me — “Etta James is all about love lost and she tears you apart with the power of her words. This song is absolutely devastating for anybody who’s ever been hurt.”
3. Please No More — “One of the most heart-wrenching songs I’ve ever heard.”
4. If You Want Me To Stay — “Etta is older here. Her voice is lower, she’s jaded and she exudes a tougher attitude. ‘Just you try to hurt me.'”
5) And at last we get to At Last. —“Gospel derived, iconic and uplifting, this is the quintessential Etta James; everyone knows this song but this is one of my favorite versions.”
You can catch Bryan Girard at First St. Cafe in Benicia most Sunday afternoons. Free jazz in a beautiful setting.
And stay tuned for a future posting when Girard shares the evolution of the Vallejo Jazz Society.
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