DownBeat Magazine 2017

Nancy Wright, Playdate! (Direct Hit/Vizztone 111; 55:55; 4 stars)

By Frank John Hadley

On a rare solo album recorded during breaks from work with other bands in Northern California, Nancy Wright shouts and purrs through her tenor saxophone like a musician whose intelligence has evolved to match her technique.  Whether performing Chicago and West Coast blues material out of the archives or playing her own vibrant tradition-based songs, she uses tension to mark out stylistic territory somewhere between the camps of Junior Walker’s r&b, Willis Jackson’s jazz and Edie Shaw’s blues.  Wright is a perfectly good mezzo-soprano vocalist, proven by several selections, yet she reaches out to full-time songsters Frank Bey, Wee Willie Walker and Terrie Odabi to add heart expression to a track each.  Tommy Castro and Joe Louis Walker are among the seven excellent guest guitarists on hand.

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