Albums »Ella and Louis

by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1956)

I usually like my albums, particularly jazz ones, a little messy. I always think artists, like Ray Charles for instance, suffer from over production and accompaniment, but the 1956 album Ella and Louis benefits from the clean sound.

The duos’ unique voices, which are in stark complimentary contrast to each other, are the centerpiece with limited but beautiful musical arrangement. Even Satchmo’s signature trumpet only makes brief appearances.

In what is arguably the pinnacle of vocal duet albums, Ella and Louis perform with love and joy some of the era’s greatest songs by, among others, Berlin and Gershwin. Isn’t It a Lovely Day?, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, and Cheek to Cheek are some of my favorites that have been filling my apartment with musical sunshine as I prance around with Mr. Van.

This is genuine and heart swelling feel good music that sounds as wonderful as the album cover photograph would suggest.

An easily accessible album to those weary of vocal jazz. Even Jim, not so much a fan of the genre has been requesting it get replayed.

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Posted on June 14, 2011

Songs »Is That All There Is?

30 Day Song Challenge – Day Twenty One: Best Song for the Latest End of the World:

Is That All There Is? by Peggy Lee (1969)


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Posted on May 21, 2011

Songs »Bluette

30 Day Song Challenge – Day Eighteen: Best Song to Put on When You Have to Smoke a Cigarette and Think About a Dame:

Bluette by Dave Brubeck (1961)

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Posted on May 18, 2011

Songs »I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl

30 Day Song Challenge – Day Twelve: Best Sexual Metaphor (“I need a little hot dog, between my rolls”):

I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl by Bessie Smith

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Posted on May 12, 2011

Songs »I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

by Fats Waller and Una Mae Carlisle (1939)

The jazzy standard, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby gained popularity in Blackbirds of 1928, a popular music review. It’s the Fats Waller (who is debated to be the true original author of the song) and Una Mae Carlisle version that I love to listen to. Waller reportedly hated music that was too sentimental and would goof around in recordings so that he wasn’t asked to do them anymore. He’s plenty goofy and endearing in this one.

Click here for the rest of I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

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Posted on October 18, 2010

Albums »My Funny Valentine

by Chet Baker (1954)

Smooth and sultry and oh so romantic, the voice and trumpet of Chet Baker is incomparable (as you’ll see in this week’s hunk category, he was also incredibly, mind numbingly handsome). So sad then that a substantial drug addiction ruined his career, resulting in his name attaining less than household status; he deserves to be remembered as a true jazz great. If you love the standards like I do, and are interested in delving into his work, there’s no better place to start than one of his early recordings, My Funny Valentine.

Released in 1954, the soft and haunting album which includes the title song, Someone to Watch Over Me, Let’s Get Lost, and Isn’t It Romantic, is appropriately dedicated “to lovers”.

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Posted on February 7, 2010

Songs »All of Me

dinah washington all of me newportSome of the greatest love songs are the most desperate, and All of Me, the wonderful jazz standard is one of the most pleading:

“I'm no good without you
Take my lips
I want to lose them
Take my arms
I'll never use them”

You can see a smashing rendition by Dinah Washington in this weeks movie pick Jazz on a Summer's Day, but this hit has been recorded over 2000 times by a variety of artists.

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Posted on July 20, 2009

Albums »Nuff Said

nina simone nuff said'Nuff Said! was recorded at the Westbury Music Fair in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. days after his devastating assassination; track 6, 'Why? (The King of Love is Dead)', was written by bass player Gene Taylor. His brother remembers the concert in this NPR story:

“We learned that song that (same) day. We didn't have a chance to have two or three days of rehearsal. But when you're feeling compassion and outrage and wanting to express what you know the world is feeling, we did it because that's what we felt.”

Introduced as “The High Priestess of Soul”, the warbly and smooth voiced Nina Simone takes us through a stirring, uplifting set beginning with the soft and beautiful 'In the Morning' and 'Sunday in Savannah' before pulling out all the stops for 'Gin House Blues' and an amazing cover of 'Ain't Got No' from the musical Hair, which you can see here.

It may not be the most well known album of her illustrious career, but it's a great record that's simple and heartfelt.

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Posted on May 25, 2009

Songs »Body and Soul

 Body and Soul by Benny Goodman Trio The perfect for dancing after a night of champagne and fireworks.

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Posted on December 26, 2005