After a 22-year absence from recording, ANDY BEY returned with four albums that have become a permanent part of the musical landscape. The 2005 Grammy-nominated American Song is a delicious celebration of one of America's great gifts to the music world: The American Songbook. The American Song is an intersection at which a diverse array of writers of various ethnicities developed the art of song to its highest level. Bey is that rare artist whose career extends over the decades when the American musical journey traversed swing, bebop, R&B, rock and roll, and hip-hop. On American Song, he enlists an ensemble of contemporary masters.
The release of an Andy Bey recording is a cause for celebration. During the last five decades Bey's deeply engaging four-octave baritone voice has taken on the character of a musical instrument. Those in the know have always known about Andy Bey. Like the playground legend who never made it to the NBA, Bey was almost consigned to the fading murmurs of those who caught him in Paris in '59, or Birdland in the mid '60s. There are few left who remember when Lena, Nina, and Carmen crowded into Harlem's Shalimar to hear Bey light up the joint. That tantalizing footage in Let's Get Lost of Bey and his sisters delighting a crowd of partygoers, including Bud Powell, gives us a clue of the years of brilliance that were never committed to vinyl. Aretha Franklin reminisces about when Andy Bey and his sisters "worked the village a great deal. Soon as I finished my gig I'd run over to hear them. Andy never got the recognition he deserved . . . jazz originals . . . brilliant and precious." John Coltrane cited Bey as his favorite vocalist.
Andy Bey has been hailed as a cultural phenomenon and applauded by the tastemakers of contemporary music. From Pharrell Williams to Mos Def and Jamie Cullum, Bey has become an icon for the next generation, many of whom attend his performances not only for the pure pleasure, but also for enlightenment at the feet of a master.