In this space I’m going to recommend some albums (Jazz Vocal, Traditional Pop, Jazz Instrumental or whatever takes my fancy) once in a while.
Some will be modern, newly released albums, others might be out of my collection and now difficult to obtain except by rummaging through collections at garage sales, markets or in second-hand stores.
However, remember these are my own private judgments, and I’m not too worried about other critics’ opinions.
To Buy these Selections
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This is Holly Cole's 'My Foolish Heart' from the album 'Girl Talk'.
Not from the album 'Our Favourite Songs', but a nice song all the same.
Holly Cole recorded the album 'Girl Talk' in 1990, when she was 33, with bassist David Piltch and pianist Aaron Davis.
It's a mixture of 'standards' (My Foolish Heart, Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most, My Baby Just Cares for Me, How long Has This Been Going On) and some more modern selections (Cruisin') and straight pop (Downtown).
It is an album that is well worth listening to if only for the elegant piano accompaniment of Aaron Davis, the steady bass backing of David Piltch, an up tempo Sax solo of John Johnson on 'Cruisin'', and the trumpet solo of John MacLeod on 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry'.
Rita Reys and her husband, Pim Jacobs recorded this intimate album in 1973 with bassist Ruud Jacobs and drummer Peter Ypma.
No big orchestra, no strings, just four excellent musicians playing great songs. It really is late at night music: when you are cuddled up with a lover in front of a log fire, a glass of wine by your side.
A very personal collection of songs which includes two Hoagy Carmichael standards: 'Two Sleepy People' and 'The Nearness of You', and Rogers and Hart's: 'My Funny Valentine' and 'Where or When'.
An excellent album which should be in every discerning listener’s collection.
Sarah Lazarus is an American jazz singer, who lives in France with her husband, saxophonist, Eric Breton.
On the album, 'It's All Right With Me', she sings a delicious version of 'Taking a Chance on Love', which features gipsy guitarist Biréli Lagrène.
The album is well worth getting, expecially if you enjoy fine jazz singing with wonderful guitar accompaniment.
Click the video to hear 'Taking a Chance on Love', the album cover to buy the CD.
Fred Astaire probably introduced more popular songs to the world than any other singer.
In 1952 Norman Granz produced a double LP set of some of the most famous of Fred’s songs, but using a small group backing of musicians from ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’.
The album's song selection provides an overview of Astaire's singing career although Astaire also demonstrates his tap dancing on three tracks and there is one informal instrumental Jam session.
Oscar Peterson spoke warmly of the sessions that produced The Astaire Story in his autobiography, noting that vocally, Astaire was naturally attuned to jazz phrasing.
It’s an album well worth having in your collection.
In 1964 Cleo Laine and John Dankworth made the album 'Shakespeare and All That Jazz'.
Dankworth led a small ensemble, and was soloist on alto sax and clarinet He also composed and arranged several of the tracks. Another featured soloist is trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.
Well worth trying to get the CD (Very expensive on Amazon) or searching through boot or garage sales for a copy of the vinyl LP.
The 1956 recordings of 'Nat King Cole and his Trio' showcase some of the best of his music.
I much prefer his voice in a small group session rather than orchestral backing, and his piano playing is, as it always was, immaculate.
Available on CD from Capitol - 'The Complete After Midnight Sessions'.
I like Peggy Lee's earlier albums in general; Black Coffee, Dreamstreet, Pete Kelly's Blues etc.
That said, some of her later albums are essential: Beauty and the Beat, I'm a Woman, Basin Street East and, this one - Mink Jazz.
Listen to:- 'Where Can I Go Without You?' from the album.
Music, Victor Young; Lyrics, Peggy Lee.
'The Nearnesss of You' (1958) is the title of the fifth Helen Merrill album.
Helen had a good voice, but sometimes overpowered when the song didn't need it. The song list is varied, but most are from the great broadway songwriters, although perhaps not their most famous songs.
I feel she was a very underrated singer - Listen to 'The Nearness of You', one of the greatest standards. Fantastic work by Bill Evans on piano and Oscar Pettiford bass.
It is an album well worth having in your collection.
'They Oughta Write a Song...' is a 2008 album by Halie Loren.
An eclectic mix of original songs, standards, folk and pop it is well worth getting. Listen to 'Fever', or the Pete Seeger song 'My Rainbow Race' performed in a lightly latin rhythm where Miss Loren is just accompanied by drums and bass.
Or maybe the standard 'As Time Goes By'
Accompanied by Mark Schneider (Bass), Brian West (Drums), Matt Treder (Piano) and, on 'Autumn Leaves', Tim McLaughlan (Trumpet).
A very nice album which is highly recommended.
Frank Sinatra's 'Songs For Swingin' Lovers' was the first Sinatra album I ever bought, some time in the 1960s.
I'm playing it today13/05/2018 as it is exactly 20 years since he passed away.
But what a legacy he left with us.
Okay, not all the songs he recorded were great - in fact, he admitted himself that he couldn't pick a song. But when you have a good song sung by Sinatra, it becomes great. And a great song is a wonderful experience.
On this album there are some good songs, and one or two great ones. Get it, it's indispensible for every collector of popular music.
Albums I Recommend