It must be difficult for Blue Note to compile a best of Bobbi Humphrey
CD, since nearly all of her Blue Note LPs sounded like greatest-hits compilations. Somebody picked six from a field of plenty. Why not just reissue all of her Blue Note LPs on CD? Combine two albums on one CD. These little, skimpy, six-track Blue Break Beats
, while better than nothing, are far from nirvana. "Black and Blues" represents her critically acclaimed album of the same name, and is the most traditional jazz song on the set. The moody, cool, deftly executed "Smiling Faces Sometimes" is awesome. It's not as well-known as some later cuts; it appeared on Dig This
, the LP before Black & Blues, and suffered from promotion tantamount to a magic-marker sign used to promote a lemonade stand. You get a taste of her vocal ability on "My Little Girl," a tender number inspired by the birth of her first child. On the jamming "Harlem River Drive," Bobbi
displays dexterity and strength flowing with the beat like a salmon swimming upstream. "Esoteric" and "mind-bending" are two words that describe the glittering "San Francisco Lights." The beat is camouflaged by shimmering effects and uncharacteristically lazy fluting from Bobbi
, bending notes as naturally as one bends one's arm. Humphrey
's sensitive, succulent phrasing is as identifiable as any voice in music. It's an indictment of the music industry that this fine talent hasn't achieved more; she gives her all every time out the chute.