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Antonio Carlos Jobim - Wave Antonio Carlos Jobim - Wave Expectations run high when a successful producer resigns his post to join a rival company. Things were no different in the case of Creed Taylor who left Verve for A&M, taking along the bossa guru Jobim. This liaison resulted in the album Wave, which Latin specialists regard as one of the most artistic ever, perhaps because Jobim rides the gentlest of waves in this particular recording. While the large instrumental ensemble might lead one to suspect that sensationalism was the aim here, listening to the music proves that Jobim has remained true to his clear melodies and his simple, sensitive style. A relaxed carpet of sound is rolled out which enhances and refines the essence of Jobim’s musical roots, turning them into miniature tone poems. A&M
Ben Webster with Strings - Sophisticated Lady Ben Webster with Strings - Sophisticated Lady There were at least three good reasons for recording these 10 numbers:
  • First, as a trained violinist, Ben Webster was the perfect candidate to be a part of a jazz with strings record.
  • Second, without the meaty background of Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, Webster could effectively endow the luscious tonal hues of these ballads.
  • And third, there was the excellent arranger Ralph Burns, who here - far removed from earning his daily bread with Woody Herman - ensured that sheets of music brimming over with brilliant arrangements were to be found on the music stands of the soloist Ben Webster and the string players.

All of the numbers are romantic ballads penned by Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Although the tempo is slow and the strings provide a thick carpet of sound, there is nothing here that could possibly be described as "schmaltzy." And this means that both jazz fans and romantic hearts will enjoy and praise this disc. Verve
Ben Webster Quintet - Soulville Ben Webster Quintet - Soulville Ben Webster, wrote the jazz historian J. E. Behrend, "was two men in one: in fast pieces he was a musician with a throaty, croaking vibrato, while in slow ones he was a master of erotic and intensive ballads." In this compilation of both his own works and standard numbers with the promising title of Soulville, 'Big Ben' shows the gentle and the rougher sides of his nature. No session in which black jazz musicians take part would be worth its salt without a good and honest opening blues number, as the first two tracks on this LP go to show. But in the classic hits "Lover Come Back To Me " and "Makin' Whoopee" too, the very heartbeat of the Age of Swing can be easily discerned. And it's well worth taking a look at the small print on the cover too. Joining the prominent members of the Peterson trio are Herb Ellis and Stan Levey no less! It's hardly necessary to add that the sound reproduction on this VERVE recording made in the 1950s is of the very highest quality. Special pressing Heavy Vinyl. Verve
Bill Evans At The Montreux Jazz Festival Bill Evans - Bill Evans At The Montreux Jazz Festival Audiophile ears listening to these nine titles will be surprised by the unique musical empathy of this piano/bass/percussion trio. This is also unusual given the fact that the Casino in Montreux is not exactly famous for its acoustics. All of the songs are full of fire and elegance, are rich in harmony, surprising twists and turns of rhythm and complicated changes of tempo. Eddie Gomez, who had been a member of the trio for two years at the time of recording, is far more than just a new face; and the drummer Jack DeJohnette, who often seems surprised by the changes, is an ideal partner for Bill Evans. The aggressiveness of the bass sound leads the introverted Bill Evans to new pastures: sometimes his playing is even full of exuberance and joy, as is particularly apparent in the "children's song" "Someday My Prince Will Come," where he creates a more mellow mood than is found on other recordings. Verve
Bill Evans - Bill Evans At Town Hall Vol. 1 Bill Evans - Bill Evans At Town Hall Vol. 1

It's hard to believe, but the highly acclaimed, classically trained Bill Evans had to wait until February 1966 before he could give a concert in New York. The city's Town Hall proffered an auspicious venue for the Trio after performing in clubs with their frequently bad conditions. Bill Evans also presents himself as a soloist, playing his own composition, which is dedicated to his father. The number is Ravel-like at the beginning, has two jazz improvisations in the middle section, and an almost epic finale - a construction he liked to employ not only in many of his works but also in his interpretation of standard numbers. The 1500-strong audience at the concert is remarkably hushed, and this is highly beneficial for the pensive, intuitive style of the pianist, for now he can concentrate on making contact with the bass player Chuck Israels and the percussionist Arnold Wise. It is obvious that both artists feel at home with Bill Evans' concept of equal status, which he continued to develop ever since the formation of his first Trio in 1958. Verve

Billie Holiday - Lady Sings The Blues Billie Holiday - Lady Sings The Blues Although Billie Holiday's repertoire covered barely more than a dozen pure blues numbers during the course of her long career from 1933 to 1959, music critics always referred to her as the 'Lady [who] sings the blues'. And that hasn't changed to this day. In truth the recordings she made for Columbia in the Thirties and those for Clef/ Verve between 1953 and 1957 were a highly varied mixture of titles from the American songbook and her own compositions. Her interpretations were a benchmark against which all aspiring singers were measured. Highly expressive, almost visual ballads went hand in hand with Billie Holiday's life and voice - and only she alone could sing them! Her voice was always embedded in the sound carpet produced by her accompanying musicians: Tony Scott and Paul Quinichette are two names who made their mark on her music in the mid-Fifties, and the rhythm group of Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell and Chico Hamilton is really first class. The trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, a long-time friend from the Count Basie Band, sensitively accompanies the singer's mature voice.

This album in its original cover proves for first time just how great the old Clef recordings by Norman Granz can sound. And surely almost no-one will still possess a well-preserved copy (with lyrics!) of MGC-721 on their shelf... Verve

Billie Holiday - Music for Torching Billie Holiday - Music for Torching Like no other singer, Billie Holiday revived the most famous songs of the American '30s and '40s show business era. The composers of these recordings in 1955 Los Angeles for the Norman Granz Clef label are from the second rank of musical and songwriters apart from Duke Ellington. The musicians came from the West Coast or made it their home and they are excellent soloists. Benny Carter probably provided the arrangements and all of the eight titles became top interpretations, on which singers orient themselves to this day. Music For Torching is the title of the program. The tempos and the soloists are a perfect match for this title. Everything combines to make a pleasant atmosphere, by no means schmaltzy, but emphasizing that voice. Clef
Billie Holiday - Recital Billie Holiday - Recital
Almost 45 years have passed since the death of Lady Day. About 50 years ago she could be seen and heard in just a few rare concerts outside the USA. Alcohol, drugs, affairs and racial discrimination in the USA had all left their mark on her and only her voice served as a reminder of her great successes.

It is thanks to Norman Granz that Billie Holiday signed a new, lucrative contract in the early Fifties. He drew the very best musicians into the studio and paid for excellent arrangers so that Billie had an opportunity to sing her old songs once again and record them for posterity in the very best sound quality.

Entitled Recital, this disc compiles numbers from 1952 and 1954, which were recorded with various accompanists. The musicians themselves kept a low profile out of respect for Billie Holiday; even Oscar Peterson shows himself to be a sensitive accompanist, while Paul Quinichette demonstrates that he is a very capable replacement for Lester Young. In this repertoire, taken from musical and songbooks from 1921 to 1935, Lady Day manages to convey her personality and life story - even in the softest of songs! Those with quick tempi, too, such as "What A Little Moonlight Can Do," one of the outstanding numbers here, shine out with a personal touch. It is not only young talented singers who should listen to these masterpieces at least a dozen times per week - these gems will delight the passive music lover too. Clef
Cannonball Adderley - In Chicago Cannonball Adderley - In Chicago For an altoist to be dubbed "the new Bird", following the death of the great or perhaps even supreme Charlie Parker, is certainly more than flattering. But it is not so easy to dispose of such a tag. Julian Edwin Adderley, better known as "Cannonball", certainly did not need such labeling - he was great in every sense of the word and admired for being what he was - and that was in no way insignificant! Just as imposing as his stature was his art of playing - snappy, racy and incredibly rhythmical. So it was really no wonder that Miles Davis recognized in him the perfect counterpart to John Coltrane and augmented his quintet to a sextet in 1958, recording his now legendary album Kind of Blue in March and April 1959. The present album, recorded by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in February of that year, is also possessed with the very same genius. The common factor is Davis, for all musicians at the recording session played with the Miles Davis Group. There is an intimacy here that is clearly recognizable in Cannonball's solos, where one can already hear the influence of Davis. This recording represents a jazz happening of the highest order, with breath-taking solo dialogues between two giants of the saxophone at the very height of their art. Mercury
Cannonball Adderley - In The Land of HiFi Cannonball Adderley - In The Land of HiFi Just a glance at the list of musicians participating in the recording session in June 1956, is enough to send your blood racing through your veins..This recording fulfils all expectations and offers undiluted, swinging jazz of the very best order, the very best of its day! The glorious music-making of this "condensed" big band offers an ideal background for "Cannonball's" on the whole carefree, racy solo passages, the solo contributions from Jimmy Cleavland on the trombone, Jerome Richardson on the flute, and of course Junior Mance on the piano are sheer joy. Not to forget "Cannonball's" brother, Nat Adderly, who was often left in the shadows, whose brilliance on the cornet is heard loud and clear on this recording. Mercury
Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady In January of 1963, bassist and composer Charles Mingus recorded a very personal and socially conscious work he titled The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady. Each composition, from the opening "Solo Dancer" to the closing "Group and Solo Dance" was a musical expression of Mingus' philosophy of life, love and the world around him. To the legendary bassist, this recording was so personal that he asked his friend, clinical psychologist Dr. Pollack, to review the music. Seemingly an inappropriate music critics, but as Dr. Pollack stated in the original liner notes: "Psychologists interpret behavior... why not apply this skill to music." Dr. Pollack did just that, interpreting the Mingus message inherent in his music -- music that speaks of the artists' yearning for love, peace and freedom. For Charlie Mingus and the musicians that joined him -- Charlie Mariano, alto saxophone; Jake Byard, piano; Jay Berliner, guitar; Don Butterfield, tuba; Dick Hafer, tenor saxophone and flute; Quentin Jackson, trombone -- The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady was much more than just another album, it was a jazz ballet performed by a small ensemble. It has become a landmark event. Impulse
Chet Baker - Chet Is Back Chet Baker - Chet Is Back

Forty-two years ago, Chet Baker - one of the most tragic figures of jazz who lived in the fast lane and ruined himself with drugs and alcohol - was constantly on the road from one European jazz club to another. Local rhythm groups were not always top notch so it was only logical to pick the very best from several countries for a film-music production in Italy. And it was equally logical that RCA's Italian subsidiary brought the musicians into the studio in January 1962. With one exception, the eight titles on this disc are all so-called standards. The two winds demand total concentration from the rhythm section while maintaining relaxed and laid-back harmonic patterns. And this is something the Italian Tommasi, the Belgian Thomas, the Frenchman Quersin and the Swiss Humair carry off with an air of nonchalance. The two ballads - "These Foolish Things" and the only new composition "Ballata In Forma Di Blues" - are tucked in between the other numbers and give the listener space to breathe. They are surrounded by numbers with a fast tempo, all of which demonstrate Chet Baker's and Bobby Jasper's high standard of musicianship.

1.  Well, You Needn’t 2.  These Foolish Things 3.  Barbados 4.  Star Eyes 5.  Over The Rainbow 6.  Pent Up House 7.  Ballata In Forma Di Blues 8.  Blues In The Closet. RCA

Chet Baker Quartet - With Dick Twardzik This session, recorded at Studio Pathe-Magellan October 11 and 14, 1955 in Paris, is the first of three recordings released for the Barclay label between 1955 and 1956.
For his first recording-date in Paris Chet decided to tackle Bob Zieff’s compositions, the same ones that Dick Twardzik had picked up in a hurry at the Alvin Hotel on his way to board the liner Ile-de-France. Violonist Dick Wetmore had just recorded the eight tunes, and Bob Zieff had had just enough time to revise the arrangements. Chet neither a champion sight-reader nor a big fan of rehearsals, hadn’t yet played them in front of an audience. From that first French session only the reel referred to as a 'production tape' remains.
This ‘complete Bob Zieff’ gives an impression of unity that wellmatches the suite concept intended by the composer; as for "The Girl From Greenland", its role comes as a codicil.
The record of Chet’s quartet with Twardzik has now appeared in Ben Ratliff’s book "Jazz, a Critic’s Guide to The 100 Most Important Recordings" (The New York Times Essential Library); it’s a fitting mention for an album that was long-unrecognised in the the United States …

Chi Coltrane - S/titled

In the early 1970s, when Chi Coltrane was seen and heard in Europe on TV singing her hit "Thunder And Lightening," the critics believed that they could once again celebrate a Lady of Rock. People in the USA, spoiled for choice when it came to great vocalists, were hoping to find someone worthy of following in Janis Joplin's footsteps, but the blond lady at the piano was judged somewhat warily: A great voice and a forceful keyboard style were not enough to rock one's way from Chicago's clubs into the top lineup of America's best rock and soul singers.

It was, however, these years of singing live that prepared Chi Coltrane's way to creating an impressive recording presence, which is well demonstrated in this album. The producer put together a studio group that set Chi's youthful, powerful voice on fire with its soul-like brass section. Tender emotions are found in the more tranquil numbers: "Goodbye John" is full of yearning, and the ballad "The Tree" glows with heart-warming woodland romance thanks to contributions from the horns. But Chi's voice comes over best in numbers such as in "You Were My Friend," or in exhilarating gospel songs ("Go Like Elijah), were she can belt out the text and lend it further weight with powerful chords on the piano.

Chuck Mangione - Children of Sanchez Chuck Mangione - Children of Sanchez Tinted with a Latin-American hue, the melodies are presented in a constantly varying sound spectrum which combines the melodic with the experimental. Thundering wind and drum passages, pithy big-band sets, and excursions into an intoxicating symphonic sound world are just as much a part of Mangione's musical language as are the contemplative solo pieces for cello and flugelhorn. The outstanding sound quality is beyond question; indeed, this recording was prestigiously named the Best Audiophile Disc in the 1970s. A&M
Chuck Mangione Quartet - S/titled

While Chuck Mangione's projects with orchestras in the 1970s tended to be bland (although best-sellers), his best jazz work came when the flugelhornist jammed with his quartet, which in 1971 also included Gerry Niewood on soprano and flute, bassist Joel DiBartolo and drummer Ron Davis. This LP reissue of his third album for the Mercury label finds Mangione taking melodic and worthwhile solos on such numbers as "Land of Make Believe," Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower" and "Manha De Carnival." This is a hard-to-find original making this reissue all the more sweeter.

Clifford Brown & Max Roach - A Study In Brown Clifford Brown & Max Roach - A Study In Brown

From the very first second, beginning with the magic drumming of Max Roach, right up to the very last note, this LP will overwhelm listeners with its sheer power – hard bop is certainly no easy fare for lovers of beautiful sounds. One is swept along in a maelstrom into the unknown, and is taken to wherever the soloist's wealth of ideas leads him. That's particularly clear in the case of "Caravan," "Lands End" and "Gerkins For Perkins": the brilliantly interacting quartet, all of them soloists with "equal rights," race through the numbers like an express train. Verve

Coleman Hawkins - Coleman Hawkins and Confreres Coleman Hawkins - Coleman Hawkins and Confreres Ben Webster had long before passed through the ranks of imitator, then pupil and finally master. His "college attendance," as one might put it, in the Duke Ellington Orchestra gave him a sureness of expression in his great showpieces and he also learned to hold his own against such musical giants as Paul Gonsalves and Jimmy Hamilton. "Hawk" was able to thoroughly enjoy his fame in numerous Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts given all over the world, where, of course, he had to assert himself against many other saxophone players. Two such JATP ensembles are to be found on the Confrères LP. The relaxed atmosphere is particularly noticeable in the title "Sunday" in which Roy Eldridge comes into the limelight with a brilliant solo. And just listen to George Buvivier's marvelous bass playing in "Nabab!" where he certainly has no reason to hide in the shadow thrown by Ray Brown. Coleman Hawkins' voluminous, supple sound which had a great influence on the styles of musicians ranging from Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins up to Joe Lovano, is best heard after Roy's solo in "Honey Flower." Verve
Coleman Hawkins - The Genius Of Coleman Hawkins Coleman Hawkins - The Genius Of Coleman Hawkins The trench warfare over the two very different playing styles of Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins came to an end with the date of this recording. At the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts the two musicians even stood on the stage together. Following up on these JATP live events, the recording company Verve brought the rhythm group and "Hawk" into the studio. The standard numbers were well-known and well-practiced, the recording equipment was all set up and off they went. Just listen to the fabulous flow of improvisation - it was not first with this recording that Coleman Hawkins proved that he was the first tenor saxophonist who knew how to turn into music what he heard in his head. And then he has this gloriously warm yet thrilling sound; no matter whether it’s a slow tempo or a racy piece, "Hawk" remains superb, always recognizable and always an individualist. In the way he constructs his improvisations, one has the feeling that it just has to be like that, that there’s no other path to follow.

It’s really a waste of time to try to pick out any one number - although they are all short, each and every one is a gem. The rhythm group deserves nothing but praise too. Or have you ever heard of a recording session where Peterson, Brown, Ellis and Stoller fail to add their own particular fire to pep up the soloist in the fast sections? The famous four are almost even better, however, in the ballads: reserved yet still giving the beat, simply great! Don’t miss this opportunity to buy some real "highlights": this LP certainly deserves its name. Verve
Dinah Washington - The Queen c "Grande Dame", "Lady of Jazz". The American journalists and marketing people have never been miserly in handing out titles for those with powerful black voices. But even so, some record producers have thought that calling Dinah Washington "Queen of the Blues" was falling short of the mark. And the title of this album - The Queen - makes this clear, for the Blues is just one of her strengths. Standard titles from the Twenties ("Back Water Blues", "Trouble In Mind") and the tougue-in-cheek, sarcastic "Bad Luck" show how it should be done. And there's better to come! Dinah' s "All Of Me" swings along easily in her own style - so very different from the mass of routinely sung bar-room performances. Her version of "Clifford", a ballad for Clifford Brown, a musical compatriot who died young, is probably one of the most expressive obituaries in the whole world of jazz literature. The soft, glowing timbre of her voice and the tender trumpet solo in the last few bars provide a beautiful close that can't be rivaled. Mercury
Dinah Washington - The Swingin' Miss D s

One certainly couldn't say that Ruth Jones had a velvety, smoochy voice. But in jazz history that's never been of prime importance. Dinah Washington, the name she used at her debut in 1942, became the Queen of rhythm 'n blues but was also an excellent big-band singer under bandleaders Lionel Hampton and Quincy Jones. She asked the latter (as well as Benny Golson and Ernie Wilkins) to write arrangements for her in December 1956 and "borrowed" his band for 11 classic numbers. In the ensemble were such top-notch soloists as Clark Terry, Quentin Jackson, Anthony Ortega and Lucky Thompson – and the band swings along right from the very first to last note. This EmArcy/Mercury LP is one of the Queen's best, and even 50 years after its first release the quality is still totally satisfying. Mercury

Duke Ellington and His Orchestra - And His Mother Called Him Bill Duke Ellington and His Orchestra - And His Mother Called Him Bill "When Billy Strayhorn died of cancer in 1967, Duke Ellington was devastated. His closest friend and arranger had left his life full of music and memories. As a tribute, Ellington and his orchestra almost immediately began recording a tribute to Strayhorn, using the late arranger’s own compositions and charts. The album features well-known and previously unrecorded Strayhorn tunes that showcased his range, versatility, and above all, the quality that Ellington admired him most for: his sensitivity to all the timbral, tonal, and color possibilities an orchestra could bring to a piece of music." - All Music Guide. (RCA Living Stereo)
Duke Ellington and His Orchestra - Far East Suite Duke Ellington and His Orchestra - Far East Suite If anything influenced Duke Ellington's compositions over and over again, it was the impressions and the images he took home with him from his concert tours around the world. In the Sixties, the record company RCA gave him the opportunity to set down these impressions in music and the result is the present Far East Suite, his most convincing work for large orchestra. The 1963 tour took him from Damascus to Kabul and New Delhi, to Bombay and Ankara, and only the Duke knew how to capture such diverse impressions in music. And only such soloists as Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves and Lawrence Brown right up to Harry Carney were capable of spinning out the ideas which Ellington conjured up on the piano. Cotillion
Duke Ellington and His Orchestra - Newport 1958
The appearance of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival was such a tremendous success that it was quite natural that organizer George Wein invited the band to take part again in 1958. All the soloists were still around, and in addition Gerry Mulligan was invited to perform a duet with Harry Carney (Prima Bara Dubla"). What an event to look forward to! But this time the old diehards were disappointed: the Duke had had some new tunes written for him, which of course didn't trigger any memories: "El Gato," with Cat Anderson playing with the rest of the trumpet section, a new composition ("Happy Reunion") for Paul Gonsalves on the tenor saxophone and then some compositions which were reminiscent of Debussy and arrangements by Billy Strayhorn. Also there was a fantastic flugelhorn solo by Clark Terry in "Juniflip." The highlight of the concert, though, was when the kings of the baritone sax, Gerry Mulligan and Harry Carney, stood in the limelight and the Duke Ellington Orchestra could celebrate a similar triumph to that of 1956.
Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges - Back to Back Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges - Back to Back Cotillion
Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges - Side By Side Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges - Side By Side The most awesome, the most swinging rhythm group of all times! Fantastic winds! There's only one guy who can make an alto saxophone sound like this - somewhere between melancholy and aggressiveness! Superlative after superlative come to mind when you listen to these nine numbers, which were recorded at the end of the Fifties. The idea of scaling down Ellington's band for jam-session-like numbers is absolutely genial because it offers soloists great opportunities to display their artistry. And these wind musicians are the best of the best, masters of their instruments. We have Roy Eldridge, who influenced the transition from swing to be-bop and a modern style of trumpet playing; Harry Edison, whose light and airy Basie-swing style cannot be denied; and Ben Webster, who amalgamates both the Count's and the Duke's style of swing. And then there is Johnny "The Rabbit" Hodges, whose natural feeling for rhythm and gentle tone is brought to optimal expression within this concept. Verve
Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! jFourteen numbers from the heyday of swing, composed sometime between 1930 and 1945 - played and sung time and time again in ballrooms, or on the radio to advertise biscuits or war bonds, were recorded by Ella in completely new and personal interpretations in 1961. No one should be put off by the rather unfortunate cover. Clap Hands... is absolutely top notch as regards musicality, perfect recording quality, superb accompaniment by a small ensemble, with room for improvisations; it offers a wonderful opportunity to discover something new in these evergreens, despite the occasionally banal lyrics. The songs of this recording conjure up bygone days, with listeners in the 21st century being offered a highly personal homage to one of the most successful periods in the 100-year history of jazz. Verve
Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book

The year 1956 documents a new, great chapter in the history of jazz music: Norman Granz founds his third label, VERVE, manages to win Ella Fitzgerald (who has deserted DECCA) and initiates the Songbook Series which not only attracts a totally new listening public, but also establishes Ella's reputation as the "First Lady of Song." The Cole Porter Songbook marks the glorious beginnng of a series which finally expanded to seven titles. These songs make easy listening not only thanks to their melodic originality and harmonic genius but particularly to the wonderful almagamation of the text.

"...The Porter is, musically, the most consistently splendid; though mono, the orchestra has wonderously deep layers." - Fred Kaplan, The Absolute Sound, December 2005 (included in Kaplan's "Best-Sounding Jazz LPs").  Verve

Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Rodgers & Hart Songbook Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Rodgers & Hart Songbook

 

It's something most everyone has experienced: whether at one of the great jazz festivals in Berlin, Montreux or Paris, or in a small, provincial jazz club which exudes the charm of a dingy jazz cavern in the Fifties - you sit, listen, and then rack your brain to remember the name of the number which the young jazz musician is playing with all his heart. Just what was the name? Put the Ella Sings The Rodgers And Hart Songbook album on your turntable and you're guaranteed to recall "My Funny Valentine," "Blue Moon" and "It Never Entered My Mind." All these and many more excellent ballads flowed out of the pens of the songwriting team. But don't make the mistake of associating merely scat singing taken at a cracking pace with the most famous and the BEST jazz vocalist between 1930 and 1995. This album more than demonstrates Ella Fitzgerald's excellent powers of expression and her brilliant modulations. What is more, there is a special treat for us in store on this album: three titles are now appearing on stereo-LP for the very first time. Grab this one before it's out of print. It's a guaranteed winner. (2 LPs). Verve

Ella Fitzgerald - The Harold Arlen Songbook Ella Fitzgerald - The Harold Arlen Songbook
Verve's legendary songbook editions are among Ella Fitzgerald's very best repertoire. The singer, who was stylistically at home in every genre – from jazz, to the evergreens of the Great American Songbooks, to pop songs – is to this day one of the most versatile interpreters of the American vocal scene. Her recording of the Harold Arlen Songbook, made in 1960 and '61, is, along with similar projects with songs by Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, the very best of its kind. Harold Arlen discovered his propensity for jazz as a pianist, orchestrator and musical producer of the Cotton Club shows over many years. So it is not surprising that much of what flowed from his pen had a distinct jazz leaning. "Ella is the only vocalist who manages to sing even the most complicated phrases of my songs with poise and lightness," he stated upon completion of the production. The musical quality of the 26 refurbished audiophile tracks, including two bonus tracks, make this re-release a timeless work of reference of American easy listening. The superb big band, along with the brilliant arrangements and conducting of Billy May, provides a perfect backing. Verve
Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie - On The Sunny Side Of The Street Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie - On The Sunny Side Of The Street
"The world's best jazz "trio": Ella Fitzgerald with Count Basie's Big Band in arrangements by Quincy Jones." Verve
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Ella and Louis Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Ella and Louis
The very fact that America's biggest jazz label called one of their albums quite simply Ella and Louis indicates that we are talking about something very special here. And surely enough has been said - "Satchmo" and the grande dame of jazz certainly need no further introduction. In the '50s just the mere mention of their forenames was enough to light up the eyes of jazz fans. A glance at the tracklist reveals that tranquility rules the day: wild stomps and improvised scats will neither be sought nor missed. Of prime importance to the jazz ballad is a feeling of 'letting oneself drift' in the inspiration which gushes forth from the minds of genial American songwriters. This is no contest - for the artists all pursue a common goal with extreme sensitiveness. The background combo, made up of first-class musicians and led by Oscar Peterson, performs with great concentration and almost obtrusive unobtrusiveness. VERVE's highly successful producer Norman Granz decided quite deliberately to make the recording in the studio instead of at a live session. And success has verified his judgement, for such vocal jazz knows only gentle tones - but the result is all the more intensive for that. Special Pressing Heavy Vinyl. Verve
Esquivel & Orchestra - Exploring New Sounds in Stereo Esquivel & Orchestra - Exploring New Sounds in Stereo In the early days of stereophony, musicians were inspired to explore this new technology which opened the gate to an exciting new potpourri of sounds, as is testified to in recordings of the day. Should the thud of the bongos come out of the right or left channel? Shall we have the background singer humming from the depths of the room, or should we zoom him in right in front of our nose, as it were? How can a tinkling harpsichord hold its own against the crashing waves of sound produced by a big band? One question after another arose - to which Juan Garcia Esquivel with his sound machine found highly entertaining answers.

In the early years, Esquivel - who later created a sensation with his own pop compositions - kept well known cocktail-lounge favorites. The instruments he employed were far from conventional however: with Chinese bells, gongs, Jew's harp, a well-assorted battery of percussion, a solid brass section and driving Latin rhythms, his ensemble is all set to astound the listener. And while you're still wondering whether that was a train whistle you just heard or perhaps a steel guitar, the next sound is already massaging your acoustic nerve. This is easy listening at its best. RCA Living Stereo
Freddie Hubbard - The Body & The Soul Freddie Hubbard - The Body & The Soul The second of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's two Impulse albums features the 25-year old in three separate settings. He is heard along with tenor-saxophonist backed by with strings ("Skylark," "I Got It Bad" and "Chocolate Shake" are all given beautiful treatments), with a 16-piece band and in a septet with Eric Dolphy and Wayne Shorter. This well-rounded and highly recommended showcase shows why Freddie Hubbard was considered the top trumpeter to emerge during the early '60s. Impulse

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