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

Vocal Jazz - Released April 6, 2018 | Verve Reissues


Vocal Jazz - Released June 18, 2007 | Capitol Records

A reasonable sampler featuring several Wilson hits from the '60s and '70s. Although it's impossible to fully convey the depth of her career from one album, this set at least didn't skimp on the jazz and blues numbers that earned her her reputation. ~ Ron Wynn

Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Capitol Records


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

Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Universal Music

Dinah Washington's digital discography is riddled with compilations that brandish the word "Gold," as in "Golden Classics," "Golden Hits," "Golden Songs," "Golden Greats," "Golden Stars," and "Goldies." All that glitter, however, does not necessarily describe or guarantee well-produced collections. Happily, Verve's 2007 double-disc Washington anthology deserves its title, which simply consists of the word "Gold." Opening with her debut session (for Harry Lim's Keynote label on December 19, 1943) and following her progress across most of her 20-year recording career, this excellent chronological survey documents her triumphs as a rhythm & blues, jazz, and pop vocalist. The real jazz selections, in particular the nearly ten-minute take on "Lover Come Back to Me," demonstrate this gorgeous and powerful woman's "Don't Tread on Me" approach to music, love and life. Her formidable, somewhat volcanic interpretations of Bessie Smith's "Back Water Blues" and the torch song "All of Me" come from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. This historic episode can and should be enjoyed as a scene in the motion picture Jazz on a Summer's Day. Backed by the Terry Gibbs Sextet, Washington grabs a pair of percussion mallets and smilingly intrudes upon Gibbs' vibraphone solo during "All of Me," bumping him aside with a sway of her hips and demonstrating more than passing familiarity with the instrument (not altogether surprising since she originally appeared on the scene as vibe king Lionel Hampton's precocious upstart vocalist). The startling segue from the explosive climax of "All of Me" into the string-laden, chorally sweetened masterwork "What a Difference a Day Made" provides a healthy contrast that might tweak those who disparage such sugary production techniques. The lesson, of course, is that Washington sounded great under any circumstances. Furthermore, she consciously made the decision to record with strings as did Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, and Coleman Hawkins. Each of these artists used the chamber or orchestral format to achieve a number of personal goals that included dignity, delicacy, and of course, economic stability. Complaining about Washington's string section is as pointless as poking fun at her wigs, gowns or tiaras. One doesn't focus on Earl Hines' toupee -- one listens to the music he plays. Put aside all preconceptions and surrender your heart. Verve's Gold portrait of Washington is a superb tribute to a sublime artist beside whom a lot of other singers sound immature, insecure, insincere, or anemic. ~ arwulf arwulf

Vocal Jazz - Released May 2, 2012 | Le Chant du Monde


Vocal Jazz - Released October 2, 2012 | TPX


Vocal Jazz - Released September 27, 2010 | Fremeaux Heritage


Vocal Jazz - Released October 2, 2012 | TPX


Vocal Jazz - Released May 11, 2016 | DM Digital


Vocal Jazz in the magazine