- Released: March 1, 1994
- Originally Released: 1994
- Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
Q - 8/94, p.1024 Stars
- Excellent - "...sub-titled SONGS OF BILLIE HOLIDAY...whoever had the idea is a visionary. For a start, Etta James is so distinctive, and so dissimilar to Holiday...instead we get a 100 percent personal tribute, with a body and soul of its own..."
Vibe - 8/94, p.108
"...The arrangements by Cedar Walton nicely split the difference between Holiday's uptown vibe and James's own barbecue-joint roots. An elegant and earthy performance all the way around..."
Musician - 6/94, p.78
"...MYSTERY LADY is a gem whose musicality and depths of feeling bear comparison with the best records of James' or Holiday's career...[Etta James] finds the bluesy thread that connects her R&B heritage with the jazz standards of Holiday's era..."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1174 stars out of 5
-- "MYSTERY LADY is an act or re-creation from the outside in: metaphorical gardenia in her hair, Etta steps into a luxurious spotlight of small-band jazz arranged by pianist Cedar Walton..."
- 1.Don't Explain
- 2.You've Changed
- 3.The Man I Love
- 4.I Don't Stand A Ghost of A Chance (With You)
- 5.Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)
- 6.Embraceable You
- 7.How Deep Is The Ocean
- 8.(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over
- 9.Body and Soul
- 10.The Very Thought of You
- 11.I'll Be Seeing You
Personnel: Etta James (vocals); Josh Sklair (guitar); Red Holloway (saxophone); Ronnie Buttacavoli (trumpet, flugelhorn); Kraig Kilby (trombone); Cedar Walton (piano); Tony Dumas (bass); Ralph Penland (drums, percussion).
Recorded at Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California. Includes liner notes by David Ritz.
MYSTERY LADY: SONGS OF BILLIE HOLIDAY won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.
Personnel: Etta James (vocals); Josh Sklair (guitar); Red Holloway (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Ronnie Buttacavoli (trumpet, flugelhorn); Kraig Kilby (trombone); Cedar Walton (piano); Ralph Penland (drums, percussion).
Liner Note Author: David Ritz.
Recording information: Ocean Way Recording Studios, LA, CA.
Photographer: Lendon Flanagan.
Arranger: Cedar Walton.
The popular Etta James usually performs raunchy single-entendre blues, so this surprisingly subtle outing is a real change of pace. She sounds quite laid-back on a set of ballads associated with Billie Holiday and utilizes a jazz rhythm section led by pianist Cedar Walton plus three horn players, including the great Red Holloway on tenor and alto. James makes no attempts at exploring uptempo material or scatting, sticking to soulful interpretations of the classic ballads. Despite the lack of variety in tempos, the music is quite satisfying. ~ Scott Yanow