Nellie McKay, Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day (Verve). Nellie McKay, of all people, has recorded an album of pop standards–and it’s a beaut. Her delicate alto-flute voice and tiptoe enunciation turn out to be ideally suited to the repertoire of Doris Day, who was a popular big-band singer before she moved to Hollywood and became a perky icon of Eisenhower-era American innocence. The fare ranges from light-footed swingers like “Dig It” to lyrical cameos like “I Remember You,” and the instrumental arrangements, most of them by McKay herself, are engagingly quirky. Glints of irony twinkle here and there, but there’s nothing sour or backhanded about Normal as Blueberry Pie (TT).
Archives for October 10, 2009
Jane Wilson: Horizons (Merrell, $60). The first full-length study of Wilson’s life and work, Horizons contains a penetrating biographical essay by Elizabeth Sussman, a wide-ranging interview by Justin Spring, and handsome reproductions of some ninety-odd paintings and works on paper. In recent years Wilson has specialized in all-but-abstract skyscapes whose canvas-filling bands of color and looming storm clouds are precisely poised between loose representation and abstract expressionism. Horizons puts these later paintings in perspective, illustrating the debt that Wilson owes not only to Mark Rothko but to Fairfield Porter. A long-overdue tribute to a superior artist greatly deserving of wider recognition (TT).
On the Road with Charles Kuralt, Set 1 (three discs, out Oct. 27). Cynics should steer clear of this collection of “On the Road” pieces in which Kuralt, who spent thirteen years driving around America in a motor home, reported for The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite on whatever caught his eye along the way: a circus bandleader, a cymbal factory, a professional blower of soap bubbles. “I have attempted to keep ‘relevance’ and ‘significance’ entirely out of all the stories I send back,” Kuralt wrote in A Life on the Road, his 1990 autobiography. He succeeded, much to the delight of a generation of TV viewers who loved the uncondescending sweetness with which he portrayed the quiet delights of life off the beaten path. I saw many of these pieces when they first aired in the Seventies, and I find it hard to watch them now without growing misty-eyed (TT).