Personnel: Abbey Lincoln (vocals); Coleman Hawkins, Walter Benton (tenor saxophone); Booker Little (trumpet); Julian Priester (trombone); Eric Dolphy (reeds); Mal Waldron (piano); Art Davis (bass); Max Roach (drums); Roger Sanders, Robert Whitley (congas).
Recorded at Nola Penthouse Studios, New York, New York on February 22, 1961. Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
STRAIGHT AHEAD was recorded in 1961 and was Abbey Lincoln's fifth album in as many years. Though she was only 31 when this set was recorded, Lincoln already possessed great confidence and a powerfully emotive voice. She's surrounded by a superlative cast of players, including Max Roach, Eric Dolphy, Coleman Hawkins, Booker Little, Mal Waldron, and Julian Priester. As Lincoln shifts from playfulness to melancholy, and anger to romance, the band is right with her. The rhythmic support is supple and the soloing is full of emotional resonance and invention, free of needless filigree. One highlight takes place in "When Malindy Sings" (a song based on a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar), as Dolphy's flute flies in after the conclusion of Little's trumpet solo. Though Abbey Lincoln's entire catalog is particularly strong, this album deserves special attention.