Albums

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Vocal Jazz - Released May 20, 2013 | Le Chant du Monde

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
For an overview of Nat "King" Cole's years as a remarkably popular singer, this four-CD box would be difficult to top. Containing 100 songs spanning a 20-year period, this box has virtually all of Cole's hits, some of his best jazz sides, and more than its share of variety, including a humorous previously unreleased version of "Mr. Cole Won't Rock & Roll." Recommended to beginners and veteran collectors alike, its attractive booklet is also a major asset. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2010 | Riverside

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
The ultra-hip and sophisticated "cool jazz" that Chet Baker (trumpet/vocals) helped define in the early '50s matured rapidly under the tutelage of producer Dick Bock. This can be traced to Baker's earliest sides on Bock's L.A.-based Pacific Jazz label. This album is the result of Baker's first sessions for the independent Riverside label. The Chet Baker Quartet featured on Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You includes Kenny Drew (piano), Sam Jones (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). (Performances by bassist George Morrow and drummer Dannie Richmond are featured on a few cuts.) This results in the successful combination of Baker's fluid and nonchalant West Coast delivery with the tight swinging accuracy of drummer Jones and pianist Drew. Nowhere is this balance better displayed than the opening and closing sides on the original album, "Do It the Hard Way" and "Old Devil Moon," respectively. One immediate distinction between these vocal sides and those recorded earlier in the decade for Pacific Jazz is the lissome quality of Baker's playing and, most notably, his increased capacity as a vocalist. The brilliant song selection certainly doesn't hurt either. This is an essential title in Chet Baker's 30-plus year canon. [Some reissues contain two bonus tracks, "I'm Old Fashioned" and "While My Lady Sleeps"]. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2010 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Golden Oldies
Dakota Staton was a classy Sarah-influenced vocalist who easily straddled the worlds of jazz and supper club pop. Her biggest success, 1957's "The Late, Late Show," had a sort of novelty-value sing-song quality, almost a pre-requisite for a jazz side to hit the pop charts in the '50s. TIME TO SWING is a short and breezy Capitol LP from 1959, the mood uptempo though there are some ballad treatments here, like "You Don't Know What Love Is" and "Until The Real Thing Comes Along." The clean, lightly- scored arrangments are by Sid Feller, a Capitol house-arranger at the time. As stated, the album is a short one; all the tracks clock in under 2:50 and a few are under 2:00! The reissue label DRG (which has been licensing neglected Capitol LPs as of late) includes five bonus cuts to make up the shortfall, including a fine version of "You've Changed," which Billie Holiday memorably introduced on her 1958 LADY IN SATIN.
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Pacific Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released August 27, 2013 | Bethlehem Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | FRANK SINATRA DIGITAL REPRISE

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released July 12, 2013 | Okeh - Sony Masterworks

Distinctions Découverte JAZZ NEWS
Branching away from standards on her second album Way Down Low, Austin-based jazz vocalist Kat Edmonson also expands her musical worldview, going beyond the sophisticated cabaret of her 2009 debut Take to the Sky and creating a breezy neo-tribute to the swinging '60s. That was the decade that produced Brian Wilson's "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," one of the few covers on Way Down Low and a sentiment that applies to Edmonson but in a different way. Where the Beach Boy was pining for the days before rock & roll, Edmonson would certainly feel more comfortable in either the '60s or '50s, where bossa nova, swing, and pop mingled happily, as they do here. Certainly, these sounds give Way Down Low a distinctly retro vibe, but Edmonson isn't living in the past, she's pledging allegiance to a tradition, a tradition she finds flexible enough to refashion for modern times. And Kat Edmonson is a modern girl -- after all, she funded the production of Way Down Low via Kickstarter, a move that gave her artistic freedom and professional production, taking full advantage of those two elements. Way Down Low is rich and varied, as are Edmonson's girlish vocals, which never succumb to cloying sweetness or stereotypical scatting. She's nimble and creative within the boundaries of her chosen traditions, which is why Way Down Low feels simultaneously fresh and timeless. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
To much of the pop (as opposed to the jazz) audience, Chet Baker was known not as an able cool jazz trumpeter, but as a romantic balladeer. The two classifications were not mutually exclusive; Baker's vocal numbers would also feature his trumpet playing, as well as fine instrumental support from West Coast cool jazzers. For those who prefer the vocal side of the Baker canon, this is an excellent compilation of his best vintage material in that mode. The 20 tracks draw from sessions covering the era when he was generally conceded to be at his vocal peak (1953-1956), and are dominated by standards from the likes of Rodgers & Hart, Carmichael, Gershwin, and Kern. Baker's singing was white and naïve in the best senses, with a quavering, uncertain earnestness that embodied a certain (safe) strain of mid-'50s bohemianism. That's the Baker heard on this collection, which contains some his most famous interpretations, including "My Funny Valentine," "Time After Time," "There Will Never Be Another You," and "Let's Get Lost." ~ Richie Unterberger
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 17, 2006 | RCA - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Nina Simone Sings the Blues, issued in 1967, was her RCA label debut, and was a brave departure from the material she had been recording for Phillips. Indeed, her final album for that label, High Priestess of Soul, featured the singer, pianist, and songwriter fronting a virtual orchestra. Here, Simone is backed by a pair of guitarists (Eric Gale and Rudy Stevenson), bassist (Bob Bushnell), drummer (Bernard "Pretty" Purdie), organist (Ernie Hayes), and harmonica player who doubled on saxophone (Buddy Lucas). Simone handled the piano chores. The song selection is key here. Because for all intents and purposes this is perhaps the rawest record Simone ever cut. It opens with the sultry, nocturnal, slow-burning original "Do I Move You," which doesn't beg the question but demands an answer: "Do I move you?/Are you willin'?/Do I groove you?/Is it thrillin'?/Do I soothe you?/Tell the truth now?/Do I move you?/Are you loose now?/The answer better be yeah...It pleases me...." As the guitarists slip and slide around her husky vocal, a harmonica wails in the space between, and Simone's piano is the authority, hard and purposely slow. The other tune in that vein, "In the Dark," is equally tense and unnerving; the band sounds as if it's literally sitting around as she plays and sings. There are a number of Simone signature tunes on this set, including "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl," "Backlash Blues," and her singular, hallmark, definitive reading of "My Man's Gone Now" from Porgy and Bess. Other notable tracks are the raucous, sexual roadhouse blues of "Buck," written by Simone's then husband Andy Stroud, and the woolly gospel blues of "Real Real," with the Hammond B-3 soaring around her vocal. The cover of Buddy Johnson's "Since I Fell for You" literally drips with ache and want. Simone also reprised her earlier performance of "House of the Rising Sun" (released on a 1962 Colpix live platter called At the Village Gate). It has more authority in this setting as a barrelhouse blues; it's fast, loud, proud, and wailing with harmonica and B-3 leading the charge. The original set closes with the slow yet sassy "Blues for Mama," ending with the same sexy strut the album began with, giving it the feel of a Möbius strip. Nina Simone Sings the Blues is a hallmark recording that endures; it deserves to be called a classic. ~ Thom Jurek
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1958 | Verve

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Vocalist Blossom Dearie's Summetime is a low-key collection of chamber-jazz arranged for a small trio. Working with guitarist Mundell Lowe, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Ed Thigpen, Dearie sings the material with a gentle conviction; she may never sound passionate, but she never sounds like she doesn't care. The result is a pleasant record, that might never be a compelling listen, but it's never a bad one. ~ Thom Owens
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 16, 2012 | Boutique

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
A tribute to her musical hero, Nina Simone, Black Orchid is the fourth studio album from British-Malawi jazz vocalist and protégée of Nouvelle Star judge André Manoukian, Malia. The self-produced follow-up to 2007's Young Bones includes 13 interpretations of the legendary singer's biggest hits, including "My Baby Just Cares for Me," "Feeling Good," and "I Put a Spell on You." ~ Jon O'Brien
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Verve

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1958 | Verve

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Pacific Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Decca

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Peggy Lee left Capitol in 1952 for, among several other reasons, the label's refusal to let her record and release an exotic, tumultuous version of "Lover." Lee was certainly no Mitch Miller songbird, content to loosen her gorgeous pipes on any piece of tripe foisted upon her; she was a superb songwriter with a knowledge of production and arrangement gained from work in big bands and from her husband, Dave Barbour (although the two weren't together at the time). The more open-minded Decca acquiesced to her demand, and watched its investment pay off quickly when the single became her biggest hit in years. Black Coffee was Lee's next major project. Encouraged by longtime Decca A&R Milt Gabler, she hired a small group including trumpeter Pete Candoli and pianist Jimmy Rowles (two of her favorite sidemen) to record an after-hours jazz project similar in intent and execution to Lee Wiley's "Manhattan project" of 1950, Night in Manhattan. While the title-track opener of Black Coffee soon separated itself from the LP -- to be taught forever after during the first period of any Torch Song 101 class -- the album doesn't keep to its concept very long; Lee is soon enough in a bouncy mood for "I've Got You Under My Skin" and very affectionate on "Easy Living." (If there's a concept at work here, it's the vagaries of love.) Listeners should look instead to "It Ain't Necessarily So" or "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good to You?" for more examples of Lee's quintessentially slow-burn sultriness. Aside from occasionally straying off-concept, however, Black Coffee is an excellent record, spotlighting Lee's ability to shine with every type of group and in any context. [When originally recorded and released in 1953, Black Coffee was an eight-song catalog of 78s. Three years later, Decca commissioned an LP expansion of the record, for which Lee recorded several more songs. The 2004 Verve edition is therefore a reissue of the 1956 12-song LP.] ~ John Bush
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 17, 2000 | RCA Victor

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 27, 2017 | Eden River Records

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz

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Vocal Jazz in the magazine