Various Artists

Sultry Ladies of Jazz

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The Hindsight label has pulled together a collection of performances by some of this country's most engaging interpreters of American popular song. While sultry may be somewhat of an exaggeration, certainly each of these singers puts everything into these classic standards. Some of the participants are best known as jazz singers, such as Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan. Others, including Julie London and Joanie Sommers, are better known as pop singers, although Sommers made occasional forays into the jazz arena. Here she is joined by Shelly Manne & His Men. Others defy classification, such as the inestimable Jeri Southern and the underappreciated Irene Kral and June Christy. Most of the cuts come not from well-known studio recordings, but from transcriptions or other fairly rare sources. The two pieces by Rosemary Clooney are from her 1951-1952 pop days, and are radio transcriptions. London is truly sultry as she joins the Les Brown Band in 1957 for "Tall Boy." Another factor that puts this compilation several cuts above similar collections is that the performances were made when these singers were at the top of their form and were typically backed by top jazz artists. McRae is at her jazzy, swinging best on two tracks from a 1963 recording with the Norman Simmons Trio. Especially bright gems on this album are the two offerings from Lorez Alexandria, a singer who was never given accolades commensurate with her smooth and skillful way with a song. This compilation is simply loaded with outstanding, hard to find performances, making it a must for those who look to the vocal genre for their musical satisfaction.

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