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P>Never during her more than 50 years of performing has Rosemary Clooney sounded better than on her latest album for Concord Jazz. Long occupying a top rung on the vocalist ladder, it wasn't until she escaped from the clutches of shlock music king, Mitch Miller, at Columbia Records and signed with Concord Jazz that her prodigious talent was nurtured and brought to the fore. Of course the voice shows some wear and tear after all the years, but still oozing out of every note is Clooney's absolute certainty that she is a master of her art along with supreme confidence to deliver the message of the lyrics she is interpreting. The timing, the phrasing, the way she meshes with her musicians remains lawless. Long time musical director and accompanist, John Oddo has outdone himself with the arrangements he has crafted for this session. His flute quartet on "Corcovado," the Antonio Carlos Jobim like voice of Oscar Castro-Nueves on "I Concentrate on You" to the Latin accented percussion work by Paulinho da Costa as he lays down the beat for the excellent ensemble and solo work by Bob Summers, Nina Tempo and Chauncey Welsh on "Sweet Happy Life" are a few examples of Oddo's well thought our orchestrations. Welsch was with Tony Pastor's band when the Clooney Sisters were the girl singers.
Then there's the rendition of Jobim's "Boy from Ipanema" is one of the surprises on this album. High profile singer/pianist Diana Krall shares the stage with Clooney and by doing so, my admiration for Ms Krall increases at least by a factor of ten. It has to be daunting to share the mike with a singing legend in her own time, even for the greatly promoted and high profile performer Diana Krall. High profile notwithstanding, there's no question of who's in charge here. Although she accompanies on piano, Krall's vocal role relegated to that of background singer. The remaining tracks on this album are equally as entertaining and pleasing an aural pallette - - no clinkers here.
Rosemary Clooney is a national musical treasure who should be enshrined in the hearts and minds of avid fans of the Great American Song Book. This album should be given to every aspiring vocalist of tunes from this book, female or male, and told "listen carefully. This is how it's done." To my mind a legitimate candidate for a 2000 Grammy, "Brazil" is highly recommended.
Tracks:Brazil; Corcovado (Quiet Nights); Boy from Ipanema; Wave; Once I Loved; Desafinado; I Concentrate on You; One Note Samba; How Insensitive; Let Go; Dindi; Waters of March; Meditation; Sweet Happy Life; A Day in the Life of a Fool; Brazil (Reprise)
Personnel: Rosemary Clooney - Vocals; John Pizzarelli - Guitar/Vocals; John Oddo - Piano/Arrangements/Musical Director; Gary Foster - Tenor Sax; Chauncey Welsch - Trombone; Chuck Berghofer - Bass; Jeff Hamilton - Drums; Walfredo Reyes - Percussion; Steve Kujala, Brian Scanlon, Dave Shostac, Gary Woodward - Flute; Paulinho de Costa - Percussion; John Ferraro - Drums; Diana Krall - Piano/Vocals; Nina Tempo - Tenor Sax; George Graham, Bob Summers - Trumpet; Oscar Castro-Neves - Guitar/Vocal
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.