Gwen Verdon

The Girl I Left Home For

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Broadway star Gwen Verdon didn't make too much of a dent in the jazz-pop market, but this fine album from the late '50s makes one wish she had. Cut after she had established herself in productions of Can-Can and Damn Yankees, The Girl I Left Home For finds Verdon reveling in fine selection of rarely heard Tin Pan Alley songs -- in a jazz context at least. Helped out by Joe Reisman's fluid blend of pop gloss and lounge swing, Verdon mixes in well-known numbers like "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Ain't Misbehavin'" with obscure novelties like "Hot Night in Alaska" and Cole Porter's "Mr. and Mrs. Fitch" (from The Gay Divorce). Taking off some of the glib edge plied by many a Broadway siren, Verdon judiciously balances vocal theatrics with some loose and spontaneous phrasing. At times, she even sounds a bit like Blossom Dearie, who, like Verdon, had a knack for nicely dusting off less well-traveled gems from the stage. Topped off with the benignly exotic, Latin-tinged "Sand in My Shoes" and "No-Talent Joe," The Girl I Left Home For will definitely please fans of vintage vocals, especially those who like their pop with a heavy dose of show tune humor and allure.

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