This 2CD set is a revelation to me. This is Laura Nyro singing with grand piano and a superb vocal choir of three and six voices. What differentiates these 1993 and 1994 concerts from the ones I heard in person in 1990 and 1991 is how Laura's voice actually grew stronger and more assured in the middle and low ranges and she brings full emotion and depth to each of her songs which is reminiscent of her early years.
Laura's voice is best accompanied with grand, acoustic piano, not electric, and she treats us to it here. The clarity of the piano in "My Innocence/Sophia" and her trademark beautiful changes in pace is compelling. You can actually hear this slowing cascade of notes near the beginning of the song, then she grabs the tempo and leaps it forward again. In "Let It Be Me" the deep, resonant notes of the piano rises to meet her voice, slowly, deliberately, in a harmonious choir of sound.
There is a really great rendition of "Blowin' Away" where Laura sings, "My well meaner, my day fancy dreamer", a choir of voices follow, repeating the words a bar behind, then finally meeting and joining Laura's voice. It is actually more enjoyable than her 1st album version, and in way I think Laura had always envisioned it, spare, true, fun, and in great harmony.
Yet, upon hearing this CD twice in one sitting, one is fully aware that they are Laura's last times she will ever sing in New York City. The upper notes in her voice in "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Broken Rainbow" are suggested rather than sung, and the previous, almost wailing power of "Wild World" as heard on her Live from the Bottom Line album is now subdued to an inner, personal, reflection. Laura has also come full circle, with the (Primal Heartbeat Songs of her youth) in "Dedicated to the One I Love" and "Ooh Baby Baby". Laura always gave her soul and her entire voice when she sang these, as though she would transport herself to the bustling New York city streets at night, and we would hear magic. Somehow, everything changes, and the voice becomes powerful and assured, and the rhythms deep and clear.
But to me, the most emotional moment is the song "Emmie". This is the song that Laura sang to close her performances, and the versions she sang changed throughout her ages. From a rocking, burst of youth (Eli) to a long, heartfelt remembrance (Season of Lights), to a deep, personal, memory of life, here.
For those of us who love the words and music of Laura Nyro, she will always be with us.