Albums

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1999 | Capitol Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Vocal Jazz - Released March 22, 2013 | ACT Music

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS - Qobuzissime - The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 28, 2011 | ACT Music

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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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 September 24, 2010 | ACT Music

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
If one were to listen only to "My Favorite Things," the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein Great American Songbook standard that opens Same Girl, one might deduce that Korea's Youn Sun Nah is just another cabaret singer with a pretty voice. The kalimba with which she is accompanying herself as she sings -- the sole instrument heard -- lends a sense of purity to the tune, and although the vocalist avoids the usual routes taken with the song, there's no real reason to get excited. Yet. Then things get interesting, fast. As she works her way through material from sources as diverse as Randy Newman, Sergio Mendes, and Metallica -- yes, Metallica; she does a mean "Enter Sandman" -- in addition to two original compositions and a Korean standard, Nah establishes that, in fact, she is incontestably an original, a jazz singer of great range, complexity, emotion, and ideas. Precision timing and sharp diction mark Nah's approach as she traverses the lyrics, but it's not only her technical prowess that makes Same Girl (her second release as a leader on the ACT label, after having spent a decade with a French band) such a delight. For one thing, she is constantly full of surprises. On the Mendes tune, "Song of No Regrets," Nah could have followed the rule book and sung the number as a samba. Instead, she turns it into a near a cappella minimalist dirge, Lars Danielsson's cello bringing to the rendition an unexpected eeriness and majesty. Terry Cox's "Moondog" is something else altogether, all jutting angles and piercing barbs, Ulf Wakenius' guitar and Xavier Desandre-Navarre's drums seemingly flailing willy-nilly behind Nah's warbles, yet somehow making perfect sense in the context of the arrangement, even when Nah breaks the solemnity with a jarring kazoo solo, of all things. For a real taste of her ability to knock a listener out cold, though, Wakenius' "Breakfast in Baghdad" is the place to go: to call Nah a scat singer is like calling John Coltrane a guy who fooled around a bit with the sax. Nah is a wildwoman let loose, treating each syllable as a new adventure in acrobatics, the musicians flying free and fancifully behind her captivating, seriously stunning ravings. Youn Sun Nah doesn't simply interpret; any good jazz signer can do that. She gets to the root of a melody and a lyric, deconstructs it wholly, and then presents it in a way it's never before been heard. Not many around who can do that anymore. ~ Jeff Tamarkin
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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, 2008 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Jazz songwriter and pianist Patricia Barber's 2006 album Mythologies, a song cycle based on Ovid's Metamorphosis, is a sprawling work of poetic and musical adventure. Upon its release, it garnered universal acclaim from critics and responsive concert audiences across the United States and Europe. After this rigorous undertaking, Barber could have been forgiven for taking a breather. And on its surface, that seems to be what the Cole Porter Mix is. But in Barber's case, this is far from true. While she claims in her bio that she's been singing his songs for years, and that he's her favorite songwriter, she does anything but a "standard" read on his tunes, though she never undermines their integrity. The album is called a "mix" because Barber has woven three of her own tunes -- written after the manner of Porter's -- into the fabric of the album. Given her austere yet highly original readings of his songs, they fit in seamlessly. She is accompanied here by her longtime backing group of Neal Alger (guitar), Michael Arnopol (bass), and Eric Montzka (drums), with drummer Nate Smith alternating on three tunes, and guest saxophonist Chris Potter appearing on five. Commencing with the opening number "Easy to Love," with its skeletal bossa nova rhythm (Barber doesn't play in the body of the tune and only contributes a wonderfully economical piano solo), and the relative austerity of her voice, it's obvious this isn't an ordinary standards set. She is faithful to the intent of these songs both lyrically and musically, but she shifts their arrangements in such a way that they are more suited to her deliberately restrained singing voice, and her own vocation as a songwriter. It's the songwriter she is paying tribute to here -- not the tradition. "I Concentrate on You" also carries within it the kernel of bossa, but this time, with her piano fills and artfully incisive manner of accenting, to quote Porter, "how strange the change from major to minor" without invoking the blues (the standard for doing so). Barber's pianism is elegantly idiosyncratic, even enigmatic. Her "cool" singing voice peels away the weight these songs have borne over the years, and instead returns to them their subtlety and gentle sense of humorous irony. There are some wild moments here -- such as the Latin polyrhythms at the heart of "In the Still of the Night," that set up a space for some serious blowing tenor by Potter -- but the spirit of "song" is never compromised. Barber's originals are truly canny, empathic evidence of her true understanding of Porter. "Snow," with its minor-key piano intro opens with: "Do you think of me like snow/cool, slippery and white? Do you think of me like jazz/as hip, as black as night?" The mysterious, dull ache of love and lust in "New Year's Eve Song" evokes the forlorn aspect of Porter but the strange, covert voyeurism of poet Robert Lowell's "Eep Hour": "Will he/peek in the mirror while she/knowing he's watching her tease/stripping the gown with ease/bare as the New Year, she/so in love with her is he..." All the while, the sense of a taut harmonic melody is inseparable from the lyrics, unveiling the secret intent in the song for both listener and singer. The Cole Porter Mix is a very modern form of imitation, as evidenced not only by interpretation but in her evocative compositions too; they mark the greatest form of flattery. But it is also an ingenious manner of reconsidering Porter -- and Barber -- with fresh ears. ~ Thom Jurek
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Could anything but warmth and playfulness result when the two most seminal, expressive voices of the 20th century found the room to stretch out on a full LP together? Previously responsible for one of pop history's finest duets ("Gone Fishin'"), Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong teamed up in 1960 to record an LP for MGM. As if Brother Satch and Brother Cros weren't enough in the way of firepower, Johnny Mercer himself signed on (contributing two new songs plus a bounty of added lyrics), while for the arranging and conducting chairs, the equally explosive Billy May was retained. From the opener, there are plenty of nods to a place both of them held dear: New Orleans. There's not only "Muskrat Ramble" and "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" and "At the Jazz Band Ball," there was also a new song ripe for the scatting, "Let's Sing Like a Dixieland Band," written by a young Alan Bergman expressly for the LP. New Orleans jazz was not only Armstrong's spiritual home, but it was also the venue for both singers' easiest and most playful lyricizing, replete with a raft of off-the-cuff lines (or seemingly off-the-cuff lines) and the easy give-and-take that came naturally to them, nearly (but never) stepping over each other's lines. Granted, Bing & Satchmo isn't quite as laid-back a date as it should have been; there's a peppy mixed vocal chorus to greet the train in the opening "Muskrat Ramble," and it reappears throughout the LP. But in the hands of May, Mercer, Crosby, and Armstrong, there is a parade of brilliant moments. ~ John Bush
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Prestige

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Mose Allison's very first recording finds the 29-year-old pianist taking just two vocals (on his "Young Man Blues" and "One Room Country Shack"), but those are actually the most memorable selections. The centerpiece of this trio outing with bassist Taylor LaFargue and drummer Frank Isola (which has been reissued on CD) is Allison's ten-part "Back Country Suite," a series of short concise folk melodies that puts the focus on his somewhat unique piano style which, although boppish, also looked back at the country blues tradition. Very interesting music. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1974 | Pablo

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
This is one of Ella Fitzgerald's most enjoyable recordings from her later years. With pianist Tommy Flanagan, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Keter Betts, and drummer Bobby Durham serving as a backup group (not a bad band), she swings everything from "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "It Don't Mean a Thing" to "Lemon Drop" and even Carole King's "You've Got a Friend." Her ballad interpretations are only topped by her scatting talents. This set serves as a perfect introduction to the mature Ella Fitzgerald. ~ Scott Yanow
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Pacific Jazz

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released February 28, 2003 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released October 10, 2001 | ENJA RECORDS Werner Aldinger

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Decca

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
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Vocal Jazz - Released June 8, 1999 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions 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 August 2, 1993 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Stereophile: Record To Die For
These recordings can be considered the final ones of Betty Carter's early period for, by the time she next appeared on record (in 1969), the singer was much more adventurous in her improvisations. This CD reissues eight selections from Carter's rather brief 1964 Roulette LP (under 26 minutes), plus it adds seven previously unissued numbers from 1965. On the former date Carter (who is quite memorable on "This Is Always," "Some Other Time," and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most") is accompanied by pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Roy McCurdy, while the "new" session ("There Is No Greater Love" and "You're a Sweetheart" are the standouts) features guitarist Kenny Burrell plus an unknown rhythm section in the backup band. Highly recommended to Betty Carter fans and to those listeners who find her later work somewhat forbidding. ~ Scott Yanow
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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, 1993 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard

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Vocal Jazz in the magazine