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All sixteen tracks on this album have been issued previously on the Liberty label; however, the first twelve appeared on one album, while the others appeared on other vinyl releases. Julie London interpreted the blues in her own sweet way, and this collection brings them together. What makes About The Blues so special, however, is the impact Bobby Troup had on the music. Each arrangement, while focusing on her smooth contralto delivery, partners London with a well-balanced orchestra that swings hard. Their sound is full and the accompaniment contains fills from alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, muted trumpet, and more. Section work moves back and forth between low brass, screeching trumpets and mellow woodwinds. Strings are present at times, but it’s not overdone.
The first twelve tracks were released in 1957. Troup and London were married on New Year’s Eve, 1959. Their musical collaboration, however, was already in place for About The Blues. Two of Troup’s compositions appeared on the original, and one more is added here. It was through his encouragement that London sought a perfect accompaniment for her recordings. Troup’s “The Blues is all I Ever Had,” for instance, opens with light woodwind tones over a walking bass and maintains a minimalist accompaniment. “Blues in the Night,” on the other hand, wails with a Count Basie attitude, employing individual soloists to join the singer, while a full band creates an impressively round sound. Julie London’s vocal interpretations prove all the more satisfying in the company of these stellar band arrangements.
Track Listing: Basin Street Blues; I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues; A Nightingale Can Sing the Blues; Get Set for the Blues; Invitation to the Blues; Bye Bye Blues; Meaning of the Blues; About the Blues; Sunday Blues; The Blues is All I Ever Had; Blues in the Night; Bouquet of Blues; Baby, Baby, All the Time; Shadow Woman; Meaning of the Blues (45 single take); Dark.
Personnel: Julie London- vocals; Russ Garcia and a studio orchestra; The Spencer-Hagan Orchestra for “Dark.”
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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