Abbey Is Blue, the landmark, 1959 album from the legendary jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln, is returning to vinyl. Lincoln’s newly-remastered album will be available on 180-gram vinyl on May 28 via Craft Recordings, while fans can also stream or download the moving set in hi-res digital formats.
Originally released as Lincoln’s fourth and final recording with Riverside Records, Abbey is Blue took a stark turn from her earlier releases, which typically consisted of standards from the Great American Songbook. As the title suggests, Abbey Is Blue finds the singer solemn and reflective. Her vocal talents, meanwhile, are on display, as Lincoln soulfully embodies the lyrical content of her songs.
Lincoln handpicked each of the songs on the album, including the Kurt Weill/Langston Hughes-penned “Lonely House,” from the 1946 opera Street Scene, the cutting theme to the 1928 silent film Laugh, Clown, Laugh, and Mongo Santamaría’s jazz standard, “Afro Blue,” featuring lyrics by Oscar Brown.
Lincoln, a talented songwriter in her own right, also included one of her original compositions, “Let Up.” The song was written as a sharp message to her critics.
“My life was really becoming oppressive. I was trying to be seen as a serious performer. And there were many people making snide, ugly remarks about [me],” Lincoln explained in an interview with the National Endowment for the Arts.
The songs on Abbey Is Blue lamented the injustices that were happening across the country – particularly towards Black Americans. Just one year later, Lincoln, who was a passionate civil rights activist, offered an even bolder statement alongside her husband, Max Roach, on the incendiary We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite.
Roach also appears on Abbey Is Blue, along with such talented players as Kenny Dorham, Stanley Turrentine, Philly Joe Jones, Wynton Kelly, and Sam Jones.
In his original liner notes for Abbey Is Blue, Riverside co-founder Orrin Keepnews (who co-produced the album) proclaimed,
“It is certainly the best singing by far that Abbey has done on record, and I think now – as I did much of the time while it was being recorded – that it stands up as among the most effective and moving albums that any singer has created in a long time.”
Abbey Is Blue will be available on May 28. Scroll down to view the tracklist and preorder it here.
Abbey Is Blue tracklisting:
2. Lonely House
3. Let It Up
4. Thursday’s Child
5. Brother, Where Are You?
1. Laugh, Clown, Laugh
2. Come Sunday
3. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise
4. Lost in the Stars
5. Long As You’re Living