At 64, Andy Bey still has an impossibly beautiful voice. Bey has been releasing jazz albums since the 1960s, and the years haven't dimmed his rich, elegant interpretations of American standards. His latest album showcases the delicate, yet commanding manner in which Bey caresses deep nuance from every syllable of every word he sings. There's a full-bodied roundness to the way Bey finishes his phrases in a style reminiscent of the great (and too often forgotten) Johnny Hartman, never more so than on ``Lush Life.'' Even on this much-recorded Billy Strayhorn classic, Bey gives a tour de force performance - the song clocks in at just under eight minutes - imbuing it with a sense of suspense aided by shifting time signatures, arrangements, and extended scat singing. He also has the confidence to put his own bluesy spin (arranged by Bey and producer Herb Jordan) on the brokenhearted ``Angel Eyes,'' a song most closely associated with Frank Sinatra. The highlight, though, is Duke Ellington's playful ``Caravan,'' which offers Bey his only opportunity here to loosen up and swing. It recalls that in the 1960s, Bey was a favorite of hard-bop masters Max Roach and Horace Silver, and it's such a treat, it would have been thrilling if this album featured more up-tempo songs scattered among the ballads.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.