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Ethel Waters: The Best Of Ethel Waters

Jim Santella By

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She was one of the first jazz singers ever to record. The reissued tracks on Columbia’s superb compilation were originally released between December 1925 and November 1940. Here, the clear sound quality of her voice and the balanced, all star accompaniment beside her makes The Best Of Ethel Waters a fine addition to the CD library.

Show tunes carried Waters from honky-tonks to Broadway and Hollywood. With “Stormy Weather” from Cotton Club Parade of 1933, she was noticed by the public. Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, Bunny Berigan, Joe Venuti and others accompany her in a deeply heartfelt interpretation. The magnetic attraction of her voice appears in both early blues themes and later showstoppers.

The 1925 recording of “Maybe Not At All” proves interesting, since her accompanists are Pearl Wright on piano, Joe Smith on cornet, and Coleman Hawkins on baritone saxophone. For that piece, Waters moves confidently through a suite of changing interpretations with a knowing gleam in her eye. Both in all-star format and with large studio orchestras, this entertaining vocal compilation provides a knowledgeable look at Waters and what she could do with a show tune.


Track Listing: Heat Wave; I Just Couldn

Personnel: Ethel Waters- vocals; Joe Smith- cornet; Bunny Berigan, Sterling Bose, Manny Klein, Shirley Clay, Charlie Teagarden- trumpet; Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey- trombone; Jimmy Dorsey- clarinet, alto saxophone; Larry Binyon- clarinet, tenor saxophone; Benny Goodman- clarinet; Art Karle- tenor saxophone; Coleman Hawkins- baritone saxophone; Dick McDonough, Tony Colucci- guitar; Joe Sullivan, Rube Bloom, Fulton McGrath, Frank Signorelli, Pearl Wright- piano; Joe Tarto, Artie Bernstein- bass; Stan King, Gene Krupa- drums; Joe Venuti, Harry Hoffman, Walt Edelstein, Lou Kosloff, Ben Selvin- violin; others.

Title: The Best Of Ethel Waters | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Columbia Records

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