Rolling Stone - 3/1/69, p.28
"...an album of...jazz-blues....the best record to appear in the last five years....The horn arrangements...are simply beautiful, alternately driving and mellow, with rich, warm harmonies. Aretha sings better than ever..."
Personnel: Aretha Franklin (vocals, piano); Arif Mardin (arranger, conductor); Jimmy Johnson, Kenny Burrell (guitar); David Newman (flute, tenor saxophone); George Dorsey, Frank Wess (alto saxophone); Seldon Powell, King Curtis (tenor saxophone); Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone); Joe Newman, Snookie Young, Bernie Glow, Ernie Royal, Richard Williams (trumpet); Jimmy Cleveland, Benny Powell, Urbie Greene, Thomas Mitchell (trombone); Junior Mance (piano); Joe Zawinul (electric piano, organ); Spooner Oldham (organ); Jack Jennings (vibraphone); Jerry Jemmott, Tommy Cogbill, Ron Carter (bass); Grady Tate, Roger Hawkins, Bruno Carr (drums); Louie Goicdecha, Manuel Gonzales (percussion); Evelyn Greene, Wyline Ivy (background vocals).
Recorded at Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, New York on April 17 & 18 and September 23-27, 1968. Originally released on Atlantic (8212). Includes liner notes by David Nathan.
Personnel: Aretha Franklin (vocals, piano); Jimmy Johnson , Kenny Burrell (guitar); David "Fathead" Newman (flute, tenor saxophone); Frank Wess, George Dorsey (alto saxophone); King Curtis, Seldon Powell (tenor saxophone); Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone); Richard Gene Williams , Ernie Royal, Joe Newman , Snooky Young, Bernie Glow (trumpet); Jimmy Cleveland, Thomas Mitchell, Urbie Green, Benny Powell (trombone); Junior Mance (piano, keyboards); Joe Zawinul (electric piano, organ); Spooner Oldham (organ); Jack Jennings (vibraphone, percussion); Tommy Cogbill (electric bass); Grady Tate, Roger Hawkins, Bruno Carr (drums); Manuel Gonzales, Louie Goicdecha (percussion); Evelyn Greene, Wyline Ivy (background vocals).
Audio Remasterers: Dan Hersch; Bill Inglot.
Liner Note Author: David Nathan.
Recording information: Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY (04/17/1968-09/27/1968).
Photographer: Jean-Pierre Leloir.
Arranger: Arif Mardin.
The title is a bit of a misnomer--this album, originally released in 1969, should have been called "Aretha's Jazz" or "The Queen of Soul Swings." Aretha's powerful, authoritative singing is consistent with her best '60s & early '70s work, but here she applies it to an interesting mix of '50s & '60s pop, soul/R&B and jazz standards. The beat tends to swing, sway and "cook" rather than snap, the horn section swells with rich, punchy unison passages rather than riffing or honking and the instrumental solos have a jazzy, thoughtful feel.
The background vocals still have that gospel-chorus-derived sound, however, and Aretha's voice still soars to the heavens. She makes every song sound like it belongs to her alone--whether it's Glen Campbell's "Gentle On My Mind"or Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Tracks of My Tears." Each track is given a jazz-accented rendition with Aretha's voice redefining the tune's meaning. Not an album for those just getting familiar with the Queen of Soul's body of work, but it will show her fans a rarely-seen side of her talent.