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, 1998 | Pacific Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released June 9, 2015 | Whaling City Sound

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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 1, 1966 | Philips

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
When Wild Is The Wind was released in 1966, Nina Simone’s name was already closely associated with engagement and struggle. It is therefore only logical that this album, which regroups several sessions recorded for Philips in 1964 and 1965, is marked with dissent and revolt. In her own specific style. Because the 33-year-old singer knew how to do everything, she blended various styles, from bombastic to more intimate, from jazz ballads to more up-tempo titles. Moreover she always approached her art form with a true sense of dramaturgy, driving it through her singular voice or her streamlined piano. She reached a climax with her song Four Women that pieced together the portraits of four Afro-American women. Four stereotypes to expose endemic racism and injustice. Wild Is The Wind is also proof that Nina Simone was above all genres. Not fully jazz, not really blues, not entirely folk, or soul, she created her own language that many have copied but never equalled… © MZ/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released September 22, 2015 | Bonsaï Music

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Pacific Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Vocal Jazz - Released August 12, 1994 | Rhino Atlantic

Two of singer Chris Connor's finest Atlantic albums are reissued in full on this single CD. The laid-back yet coolly emotional jazz singer is heard backed by top-notch rhythm sections (with either Ralph Sharon or Stan Free being the pianist/arranger) and occasional horns (trumpeter Joe Wilder, flutist Sam Most, tenors Al Cohn and Lucky Thompson, flutist Bobby Jaspar and Al Epstein on English horn and bass clarinet) adding some short solos. Connor (then around 30) was in her prime, and her renditions of such songs as "Poor Little Rich Girl," "Lonely Town," "I'm Shooting High," "Moonlight in Vermont," and even "Johnny One Note" are memorable and sometimes haunting. ~ Scott Yanow
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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 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, 1962 | FRANK SINATRA DIGITAL REPRISE

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Vocal Jazz - Released October 20, 1958 | Capitol Records

Many of singer June Christy's popular Capitol albums feature her cool-toned vocals backed by an orchestra. This recording is an exception. Christy excels on a jazz-oriented set with a nonet that includes trumpeter Ed Leddy, trombonist Frank Rosolino and her husband Bob Cooper (who arranged the set) on tenor and oboe. Christy accurately called this music "intimate swing." Her versions of such songs as "I'm Glad There Is You," "My One and Only Love," "When Lights Are Low" and "Blue Moon" are tasteful, sincere and often quite memorable. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1978 | Pablo

This set features the great Sarah Vaughan in a typically spontaneous Norman Granz production for Pablo with pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Louie Bellson. Sassy sounds wonderful stretching out on such songs as "Midnight Sun," "More Than You Know," "Teach Me Tonight," and "Body and Soul," among others. All ten of the melodies are veteran standards that she knew backwards but still greeted with enthusiasm. A very good example of late-period Sarah Vaughan. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1982 | Pablo

Sarah Vaughan had complete control over the production of this album, Crazy and Mixed Up (which would be her last small-group recording) and, even if the results are not all that unique, her voice is often in near-miraculous form. With fine backup work from pianist Roland Hanna, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Harold Jones, Sassy sounds in prime form, on such songs as "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "Autumn Leaves," "The Island" and "You Are Too Beautiful." It is hard to believe, listening to her still-powerful voice on this CD reissue, that she had already been a recording artist for 48 years. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Decca

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Blue Note Records

Who but Kurt Elling would open a ballads album by singing a Charlie Haden bass solo? It's a typically ambitious move, transforming "Moonlight Serenade," Glenn Miller's perennial slow-dance favorite, into a hip, smoky ode. Elling is a distinctive vocalist, endowed with true musicianship: Listen as he sticks to his band like glue on the very slow tempo of "Lil' Darlin'." That's not easy. Laurence Hobgood, Elling's longtime musical partner, plays outstanding piano throughout and crafts subtle horn arrangements on several tracks. Bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Peter Erskine illuminate the session as well. The horn section -- trumpeter Clay Jenkins, alto saxophonist Jeff Clayton, and tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard -- is heard to greatest effect on the closing "While You Are Mine" and the beginning of "Detour Ahead." Some of the songs, like Stephen Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around" (from Sweeney Todd), come out sounding a bit bland. But among the best is "Orange Blossoms in Summertime," based on a Curtis Lundy tune, during which Elling executes a harmonized ensemble passage with the horns and holds a climactic long note at the end. Other highlights include the bouncy 6/8 take on "Easy Living" and the drum-and-vocal opening of "I'm Through With Love." While Flirting With Twilight lacks the breadth of a record like The Messenger, it's still a worthy statement from Elling, who shows yet again that vocal jazz can be more than just easy listening. (The U.S. release contains a hidden track, the old Marlene Dietrich vehicle "Je Tire Ma Révérence," which Elling sings in French, backed only by Marc Johnson.) ~ David R. Adler
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1957 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Verve

Although many of Billie Holiday's recordings for Commodore and Decca are often overlooked -- at least in comparison to the songs that bookend her career (for Columbia and Verve) -- they include some of her best work, beginning at the end of the '30s with "Strange Fruit" and stretching to the end of the '40s with "God Bless the Child." In 1939, Billie Holiday was a jazz sensation without a hit record. She gained that hit record, and began her journey to musical immortality, when her label Columbia refused to record "Strange Fruit," and jazz fan Milt Gabler welcomed her to his aficionado label, Commodore. Gabler recorded Holiday often over the next ten years, both at Commodore and through his work at Decca in the mid-to late '40s. While on Commodore, Holiday focused on downcast ballads, including "I Cover the Waterfront" and "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues" (dubbed "loser" songs by Gabler), but she also excelled with warm and affectionate material too, "Embraceable You" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street." Regardless of the material, her backing consisted of small groups usually led by a pair of saloon-sound maestros: Doc Cheatham on trumpet and Eddie Heywood on piano. That sound was in for a switch when Holiday moved to Decca, however, beginning with another big hit, "Lover Man," a pop ballad with the full crossover treatment -- strings and all. (Gabler had no compunction about false notions of purity, and he happily recorded Holiday with strings and backing choruses whenever the song demanded it.) Even more than her work for Commodore, Holiday's work for Decca was melancholy and resigned in the extreme, with sterling treatments of yet more loser songs: "Don't Explain," "Good Morning Heartache," "You Better Go Now," and "What Is This Thing Called Love." Individually, the songs are excellent, and as a package, The Complete Commodore & Decca Masters can hardly be beat. It's a splendid accompaniment to similar sets devoted to Billie Holiday's Columbia and Verve output, and while completists will bemoan the lack of the many alternate takes -- most of the Commodore sides have two alternate takes for each master recording, available elsewhere -- this is all the war-years Billie Holiday one could hope for. ~ John Bush
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Verve

Although a little slim at 45 minutes, Verve's compilation of 11 romantic titles recorded by Dinah Washington includes some of her finest material. Concentrating on the mid- to late '50s, Dinah Washington for Lovers surveys the years when she finally bloomed as a popular purveyor of adult vocal jazz. Surprisingly, it doesn't include the most popular ballad of her career, "What a Diff'rence a Day Made," but Washington had a certain way with standards that never fails to delight; no other vocal interpreter can make listeners contemplate lyrics anew even after they've heard it enough times to memorize. While most of the selections here feature the rosy strings and orchestra that Washington preferred late in her career, a pair of mellow ballads ("Darn That Dream" and "Crazy He Calls Me") come from a very different type of recording, her 1954 jam session landmark, Dinah Jams. ~ John Bush

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Vocal Jazz in the magazine