Rickie Lee Jones and Tom Waits have been prominent figures in the world of pop since their emergence in the mid-1970s. While the folksy Jones has had an eclectic career, her shrill vocals have likely turned off as many listeners as those who enjoy her work, though her early 1990s CD Pop Pop (Geffen, 1991) showed that she was adventurous enough to tackle standards. Waits emerged looking like a denizen of Skid Row and sounded like one as well, particularly to those exposed to him during his puzzling tour as an opening solo act for Frank Zappa in 1974. But he had his moment in a more mainstream setting, singing a duet with country vocalist Crystal Gayle on a film soundtrack.
Though it has been decades since the two artists were involved, they agreed to an amicable reunion for an improbable tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. The singers will turn a few heads with their laudable, engaging duets of the eleven standards recorded in 1956 by Fitzgerald and Armstrong for Verve. "Can't We Be Friends" really swings, while "They Can't Take That Away" is humorous, particularly when Waits ad libs, "They ain't gonna send me back there, no!" One shortcoming is Chris Botti's rather unconvincing attempt to simulate Satchmo's trumpet style. While this CD will never replace the original Ella & Louis, it is a heartfelt salute to two giants of jazz and popular music. The excellent rhythm section includes the French/Vietnamese pianist Nam DePlum, Haitian bassist Bill S. Tuppé and British drummer Justin Thyme.
Can't We Be Friends?; Isn't This a Lovely Day?; Moonlight in Vermont; They Can't Take That Away from Me;
Under a Blanket of Blue; Tenderly; A Foggy Day; Stars Fell on Alabama; Cheek to Cheek; The Nearness of You;
April in Paris.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.