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Eva Cassidy - Live at Blues Alley

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Robin

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Artist / Title: Eva Cassidy - Live at Blues Alley
Year of Release: 1996, 1998
Record Label: Blix Street Records
Genre: Other – Jazz / Blues / Soul / Folk / Pop / Rock / Gospel


Sometimes, it is difficult for me, to express just how much I love Eva Cassidy’s music. It is difficult, because Eva's musical creativity / interpretation, of each song she sings, is so intangibly beautiful and touches the heart completely... I enjoy all of her recordings, as well as all of her CD’s. Eva Marie Cassidy was a remarkable, creative, multi-talented and a very sweet person. Tragically, she passed away in late 1996, after losing her battle with melanoma skin cancer. She was just 33 years old. During her life time, Eva never knew the fame and fortune of her musical talent. She worked as a gardener in a nursery, lived at home, while she created, sang and recorded, pretty much as an unknown and in relative obscurity. She lived, performed and recorded music in the small towns and communities around the Washington DC area. “Live at Blues Alley” was the only CD she ever produced while she was alive. Amazingly, this live CD was originally and partly financed by, Eva Cassidy herself. She actually made up the monetary difference to produce “Live At Blues Alley”, by putting some of the cost of the production on her credit card, just to get this CD made. And, just to clarify, “Blues Alley” is a ‘Jazz Supper Club’, located in the ‘Georgetown’ district, of Washington DC.

“Live at Blues Alley” is my personal favorite Eva Cassidy CD. Thankfully, all subsequent CD’s were produced later, after her death, by her parents and friends. As was her style, Eva sings while playing the acoustic or electric guitar, in every song on this beautiful CD. All the songs were wonderfully recorded live at ‘Blues Alley’, on January 2 and 3 1996, except for “Oh, Had I A Golden Tread” (It was her favorite), which was recorded at Chris Biondo’s studio. When Eva walked on to the stage with the assistance of a cane, she immediately apologizing for doing so, because her hip had been bothering her, then Eva proceeded to sing her heart out in very song. Unfortunately, at the time, what Eva did not know, was that her melanoma skin cancer had metastasized to the bones in her hip, and she was not destined to live out the year...

The beautiful Eva Cassidy covers songs from all genres on this CD. My favorite Eva Cassidy songs on “Live at Blues Alley” are: “Cheek to Cheek” by Irving Berlin, “Stormy Monday” by T. Bone Walker, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Paul Simon, “Fine And Mellow” by Billie Holiday, “ People Get ready” by Curtis Mayfield, “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin, “Tall Trees In Georgia” by Buffy St. Marie, “Fields of Gold” by Sting, “Autumn Leaves” by Johnny Mercer, “Honeysuckle Rose” by Fats Waller, “Take Me To The River” by Al Green, “What A Wonderful World” by George David Weiss / Robert Thiele, “Oh, Had I A Golden Thread” by Pete Seeger.

The stupendous ‘Band’, backing up Eva Cassidy includes: Chris Biondo bass guitar, Keith Grimes electric guitar, Raice McLeod drums, Lenny ‘The Ringer” Williams (has perfect pitch) and for, “Oh Had I A Golden Thread” – Hilton Felton hammond organ.
Eva Cassidy’s sweet and poignant quote in the liner notes of “Live at Blues Alley” is delightful… :D
“Special thanks to the creative spirit that flows through everyone. To my parents for giving me love and a deep appreciation of music, my brother Dan “The Fiddle Man” (he’s the greatest), my sisters Margaret and Anette, and Aunt Isabel, thank you all so much. Also, Martha Cassidy, uncle John, Al Dale, Bryan McCulley, Greg Audet, Larry Melton, Jackie Fletcher for not making me buy sugar. Jeff Muller, Laura Caliguiri, Mike Dove, The Murphy family, and a very special thank you to Chris Biondo for taking me under his wing, persuading me to sing at open mikes and believing in me. I want to thank the enthusiastic Blues Alley crowd. Thanks Ralph and Sharon and God bless us every one!”

At one time, the record label, “Blue Note”, almost signed her, but they wanted her to settle-down into a single style, like ‘Jazz’. To her credit, Eva would not compromise her musical values, which her parents had instilled in her. Eva loved all kinds of music and just loved to sing, from any genre, as long as it moved her, all be it, Jazz, County, Pop, Rock, Folk, Spirituals, Gospel, or Blues material. If it means anything, ‘Blue Note’, executives later expressed seriously regret for not having signed her and letting her sing the songs we all love…

Though, Eva Cassidy’s life was all to short, she was full of creativity and innovation at every turn. Eva was an extremely talented fine artist, painting wonderful works as well. I love her beautiful musical vocals, as played through my ML speakers. I feel, Eva’s musical ballads were so haunting and yet so sweet, they have great emotional meaning and appeal for me… If you can listen to, “What A Wonderful World” and not get a little choked-up, then you are some kind of impervious superman… Eva not only moves you, but she touches your heart deeply with her impassioned vocals in every song she sings… :D

Being that, I was / am so interested and fascinated with Eva’s musical talent and her life; I read the biography, about her life, which is called, “Eva Cassidy – Song Bird”, by Rob Burley and Jonathan Maitland with photographs by Elana Rhodes Byrd. It is mostly a collection of interviews, quotes and wonderful photos, from her family and friends, put together in an excellent book. I highly recommend it also…

I could go on and on, simply put, Eva Cassidy is fantastic!!! :D

Cheers

-Robin
 

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jfm

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Nice one, Robin. Very impressive disc.

I regularly go back to this when I've changed something in my system. MLs are able to turn your room into the Blues Alley, meaning the acoustic of the place is transported to your room. I particularly like Stormy Monday. She sings her heart out on that one (as she does on just about anything, really), and the band keeps up.
 

Robin

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The incomparable Eva Cassidy...

jfm,

Thank you for your kind words. Eva Cassidy was an amazing talent for sure, but what I forgot to mention in my review was that, according to the biography I read, Eva was very credical of her performance on the 'Live at Blue Alley' CD. You see, Eva was somewhat of a perfectionist about her music. Eva was Eva's worst credic. What most people do not know was that, during the dates of the live recording, Eva had been suffering with a throat cold, so she thought that she did not sound good. Regarding this, self-depricating observation of Eva's;
Chris Biondo (her bass player / recording engineer / one time boy-friend) put it this way, 'Eva on a bad day was far better than most top singers on their very best day.' 'That's just how good she really was.'

Cheers

-Robin
 
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