February 2005

Nancy Wilson - R.S.V.P.
MCG Jazz MCGJ 1013
Format: CD
Released: 2004

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ****

One might consider Nancy Wilson the jazz diva alive today. But that’s what happens when you’ve had a career that has spanned 50 years and recorded more than 60 albums with everyone from Cannonball Adderley to George Shearing. Heading toward her 70th birthday, Wilson can still use her fabulously silky voice to cut through a room, grab the listener by the collar and command his or her attention. R.S.V.P., Wilson's latest release, demonstrates this in spades.

Recorded from the fall of 2002 to the spring of 2003 at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, R.S.V.P. contains some of the most personal, soul-revealing jazz singing you’re likely to hear. For this album, Wilson faced the task of finding songs for which she felt a real affinity, yet never had the opportunity to record. She is backed by a who’s-who list of musicians: Phil Woods, Toots Thielemans, Paquito D’Rivera, Bill Watrous, Gary Burton, George Shearing, and a host of others. The results are wonderful. An example is "How About Me" with D’Rivera, where Wilson reaches deep inside to bring up a youthful, vulnerable, girlish voice. The recorded sound helps, ranging from good to excellent -- especially on the vocals.

R.S.V.P. is an album only Nancy Wilson could make, and then only now. She has used all the experiences of her life to draw the inspiration she imbues into every song on this set, making it the perfect opportunity to really hear her as a person. Buy this album because it is by Nancy Wilson. Buy it because it has a great supporting cast. Buy it in support of the M.C.G.’s ongoing educational efforts. Just buy this album. You won’t be sorry.