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.