Freda Payne is probably best known for her huge hit “Band Of Gold” which came out in 1970. Her sister Scherrie was a one-time Supreme member. She did a lot of musical and film work, but her love for Jazz has been present more or less all the time. She released a couple of albums in the early 60s on the Impulse label and worked with Quincy Jones, Manny Albam, or Bill Cosby.
She had consistent work over all these years, but only now, she returns to her Jazz roots with the release of her new Artistry Music/Mack Avenue CD “Come Back To Me Love”.
The 14 tracks on the album feature six tracks with lyrics or music (or both) by Gretchen Carhartt Valade, the owner of Mack Avenue and heir to the Carhartt clothing fortune. Another major force in the making of this album is pianist Bill Cunliffe, who produced the album together with Al Pryor and who arranged all the music. And the music includes full big-band charts, some Blues, some standards from the Great American Songbook and those Valade tunes which are, at best, cogent and in other cases, quiet acceptable.
The main character here now is of course the 72-year old Freda Payne whose siren can still howl and wail in pretty high registers, like at the end of the opener, Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”. She does a very nice job on the Buddy Johnson classic “Save Your Love For me” and the equally captivating “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water”, but shines brightest on the slower, laid-back tunes when she’s much more convincing telling a story: the beautiful Ivan Lins piece “The Island” for example or “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”.
I didn’t like her scatting, though, but she only does it briefly on a couple of tunes.