Entertainment » Vol. 11

WILLIE NELSON TO RELEASE AMERICAN CLASSIC; HIS FIRST ALBUM OF STANDARDS SINCE STARDUST

The album, featuring duets with Norah Jones and Diana Krall, is due out on August 25 on Blue Note Records

By Erin Hansen

On August 25, legendary singer Willie Nelson will be releasing American Classic, his first album of standards since his landmark 1978 masterpiece Stardust, and his solo debut for Blue Note Records. Produced by Tommy LiPuma, American Classic features special guest appearances by Norah Jones and Diana Krall, string arrangements by Johnny Mandel, and a top shelf backing band that includes Nelson’s longtime sidekick Mickey Raphael on harmonica, and such notable jazzmen as pianist Joe Sample, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Lewis Nash.

While it’s common now for mature pop artists to attempt to put their own stamp on the American Songbook, Nelson practically invented the approach. He set the standard for playing the standards with Stardust, perhaps this “outlaw” entertainer’s most daring move. The album went on to become the most successful album of his career thus far. It reached #1 on the Billboard’s Country Albums chart; racked up more than five million in sales; earned Nelson a Country Male Vocal Performance Grammy; and, most significantly, helped to transform a colorful, middle-aged cult figure into a mainstream star.

Encouraging Nelson to record Stardust was Bruce Lundvall, now President of Blue Note Records, who had the prescience to sign Nelson to Columbia in the ‘70s and, thirty years later, offer him a home at Blue Note. Nelson’s first effort for the label was his acclaimed 2008 collaboration with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Two Men With the Blues, a spirited live set that garnered wide acclaim and debuted at #20 on the Billboard pop chart.

www.bluenoterecords.com

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