June 27, 2006
1. Appointment In Ghana
2. Walk With Me
3. So Gracefully
4. Voyage To The Inside
5. Elephant's Eye
6. Ready Or Not
8. Self Preservation
9. A Long Walk Home
10. Gentle Wind
Marc Cary has gained a reputation as one of the most creative pianists of our time, a bandleader with musical interests that encompass jazz, go-go, hip-hop, electronic music, Indian classical music and more. But Cary is also an incisive and sought-after accompanist, a fact famously borne out by his 12-year tenure (beginning in 1994) with the great vocalist, songwriter and jazz icon Abbey Lincoln.
For the Love of Abbey, Cary's first solo piano recording, is the most personal and heartfelt of tributes, shedding light on Lincoln's remarkable body of work and honoring her extraordinary gift for melody and song craft.
"Abbey's compositions are worthy of an instrumental approach because they're so rich and lend themselves to be interpreted as instrumentals," Cary told journalist Willard Jenkins, who wrote the liner notes to For the Love of Abbey. "Abbey has been a beacon for me," Cary continued, "and because of my love for her I wanted to share my expression of her music."
Lincoln came to know Cary while he was a member of Taylor's Wailers, led by legendary drummer Arthur Taylor - who happened to be Lincoln's next-door neighbor in Harlem. "When we got finished rehearsing with A.T., Abbey would come over," Cary recalls. "I became a part of the family. She got to check me out for a long time. She knew my character. I think she always knew that I would fit."
Cary's tenure with Lincoln was longer than that of any other pianist. And Cary was following in the footsteps of the very best: Mal Waldron, Hank Jones, Wynton Kelly and Kenny Barron, among others. "I try not to freak myself out by saying, 'Wow, now I'm the one,'" Cary reflects. "It made me feel good but it didn't influence me in any way, because Abbey wanted something new, something in the moment."
Lincoln left us in August 2010. There are moments during Cary's poetic recital when one can almost hear her voice, sculpting each melodic phrase and flourish. "The Music is the Magic," one of her signature numbers, is represented here, as is the majestic "Another World," leading off the set in an inspired out-of-tempo treatment.
Cary also chose to revisit "My Love Is You" and "Throw It Away," both of which he's recorded as a leader in markedly different contexts (on Listen, Trillium and Focus Trio Live 2009). Duke Ellington's "Melancholia," which appeared on Cary's 1998 release The Antidote, is also included, for reasons Cary explains: "Abbey loved to hear me play this piece. It accentuates the feelings I have about her passing into the next realm."
In the dark minor tonalities of "Down Here Below" and "Should've Been," the hovering uncertainty of "Who Used to Dance," and the poignant balladry of "When I'm Called Home," Cary evokes memories and life lessons that transcend music. "I've carried Abbey Lincoln into a hospital in my arms, when she twisted her ankle," Cary recalls. "I picked her up in my arms. It was more than just playing with somebody. I drove to her house and learned the songs from her playing the piano. She'd voice it so simply. I learned a lot of simplicity with her - how to make that a beautiful thing. I learned how to create high energy in one chord: when you play it, how you play it, which one you choose, at what time."
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