This mix of fifteen sides from the '50s and '60s is studded with gems, mostly from our greatest songwritersthe likes of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, each offering an enduringly upbeat report from the trenches of love. Most of the artists are now gone, but very much worth remembering or becoming newly acquainted with.
Among these, the only one that was actually a pop hit was Gloria Lynne's creamily chiseled, fiercely tender 1965 version of "I Wish You Love. "Blues For Beverly, with that famously schmaltzy Gordon Jenkins sound, features a beauty of an alto sax solo by Basie alumnus Marshall Royal. Guitar virtuoso Charlie Byrd manages to remain intimate on "Love Song Ballad, even amidst the awesome big band sound of Woody Herman's orchestra.
If it's love you're after, take the Jo Jones Trio and "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me ; Jones' drumming is something only someone without a pulse could resist. On "It All Depends On You, Pee Wee Russell (clarinet) and Ruby Braff (trumpet) are two of the spellbinders who make irresistible happy heart sounds. Showcasing the superb recording techniques of the late '50s on "Embraceable You is an all-star orchestra that includes Doc Severinsen, Urbie Green, Jimmy Chambers and an especially caressing performance by Pee Wee Irwin on trumpet.
The few vocals are exceptional. Joe Williams is in peak form with "In The Evening. Even when singing "....when your baby's not around, Williams just couldn't keep good cheer out of the sweet thunder of his voice. And the great, great Maxine Sullivan sings her one pop hit, "Loch Lomond, a swing interpretation of a folk song which made her a star in the '30s. This 1955 version still swings mightily and, as with Django Reinhardt's "Nuages, which closes the set, is likely to leave you craving more.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.