Albums

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Vocal Jazz - Released March 9, 2019 | Red Bus Classics

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Vocal Jazz - Released March 13, 2019 | Mad Jazz records

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1956 | Clef Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 3, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Verve

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Vocal Jazz - Released April 3, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Philips

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
If this is blues, it's blues in the Billie Holiday sense, not the Muddy Waters one. This is one of Nina Simone's more subdued mid-'60s LPs, putting the emphasis on her piano rather than band arrangements. It's rather slanted toward torch-blues ballads like "Strange Fruit," "Trouble in Mind," Billie Holiday's own composition "Tell Me More and More and Then Some," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Simone's then-husband, Andy Stroud, wrote "Be My Husband," an effective adaptation of a traditional blues chant. By far the most impressive track is her frantic ten-minute rendition of the traditional "Sinnerman," an explosive tour de force that dwarfs everything else on the album. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Vocal Jazz - Released March 16, 2015 | Legacy Recordings

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection JAZZ NEWS - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Vocal Jazz - Released October 22, 2001 | Columbia - Legacy

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Prestige

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Don't Go to Strangers was Etta Jones' first album for the independent jazz label Prestige when it was released in 1960 (having been recorded in a single session on June 21 of that year), and although Jones had been releasing records since 1944, including a dozen sides for RCA in 1946 and an album for King Records in 1957, she was treated as an overnight sensation when the title tune from the album went gold, hitting the Top 40 on the pop charts and reaching number five on the R&B charts. An elegant ballad on an album that had several of them, including the masterful "If I Had You" and a marvelous reading of "All the Way," a song usually identified with Frank Sinatra, "Don't Go to Strangers" featured Jones' airy, bluesy phrasing and uncanny sense of spacing, and was very much a jazz performance, making its success on the pop charts all the more amazing. Listen to Jones' restructuring of the melody to the opening track, the old chestnut "Yes Sir, That's My Baby," to hear a gifted jazz singer sliding and shifting the tone center of a song like a veteran horn player, all the while leaving the melody still recognizable, but refreshing it until it stands revealed anew. Apparently there were no additional tracks cut at the session, since bonus material has never surfaced on any of the album's subsequent reissues, although that's hardly a problem, because as is, Don't Go to Strangers is a perfect gem of a recording. ~ Steve Leggett
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | Verve

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Vocal Jazz - Released February 14, 2012 | Motema

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Gregory Porter's sophomore effort confirms the talent that was so apparent on his debut. He's developed greater technique and subtlety in his impressive singing. The '70s soul is still quite apparent in his voice, with shades of Donny Hathaway and Bill Withers, but he's also the vocal heir to Nat King Cole. He's becoming a major talent, not just as a singer but also as a composer, with a unique, elliptical style, both for melodies and lyrics, which is quite evident when held up against the covers here. Porter is also acutely aware of dynamics, able to move smoothly from the softness of "Imitation of Life" to the almost atonality of the raucous "Bling Bling," which also features some excellent scat singing. His own material isn't immediately memorable, but insinuates itself into the brain after a few hearings, sophisticated and often beautiful. He keeps his soul/blues credentials alive with a version of "Work Song" that allows him to go full-throated against some honking sax. To finish, there's an a cappella version of "God Bless the Child," a song forever associated with Billie Holiday. It's a daring move, and one that works as it showcases the tenderness in his voice, with an almost liquid quality in the singing, the emotions hinted at rather than laid out. It's a superb climax to a disc that should certainly help Porter's star rise even further. ~ Chris Nickson
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Verve

One of the first box sets for completists only, 1993's ten-disc The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959 was considered nearly a necessity by anyone interested in jazz vocals. Verve returned to the catalog 12 years later with a much tighter, much smarter collection: The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes. Encompassing six discs, the set skips the many live performances and the few alternate takes included on the previous box. Overall, the work compares well to her earlier material for Columbia. Although the old familiar cracks rarely appeared in her voice during her Columbia, Decca, and Commodore years, the song selections weren't all gold, and the needs of that era (the 1930s and '40s) dictated that each side end around the three-minute mark. With Verve during the '50s, Holiday recorded nothing but standards in the studio, and indulged in many longer performances that often resulted in relaxed, methodical songs. Aside from Holiday's mastery of vocal jazz as a form, the practice also allowed for some lengthy, perfectly loving solos by musicians including Ben Webster ("Ill Wind") Harry "Sweets" Edison ("I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "Day in, Day Out"), Benny Carter ("I Get a Kick Out of You," "Prelude to a Kiss"), and Charlie Shavers ("I Wished on the Moon"). If the previous "Complete on Verve" set was an expensive bauble that listeners rarely returned to, this "Complete Verve" is a much brighter proposition. (The accordion-like packaging, however, leaves much to be desired.) ~ John Bush
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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, 2014 | Verve

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Vocal Jazz - Released December 8, 2014 | My Favorite Things

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2015 | Commodore

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Vocal Jazz - Released April 3, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1965 | Philips

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Verve

Though she eventually came to be known as a "singer's singer," Helen Merrill's 1954 debut is an unmitigated success of mainstream jazz. Besides introducing the uniquely talented young singer, the date also featured small-group arrangements by Quincy Jones and marks the introduction of another future star, trumpeter Clifford Brown. Formidable as his playing is, Brown never overshadows Merrill. She is fully up to the challenge on all fronts and enthusiastically tackles uptempo numbers such as "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" and "Falling in Love with Love" with aplomb. A winning stylistic combination of cool jazz and hard bop, Merrill particularly excels on Mel Tormé's "Born to Be Blue," making the sophisticated tune her own as she revels in Tormé's down-and-out lyric. ~ Richard Mortifoglio

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Vocal Jazz in the magazine