The second volume in Classics' welcome wrap-up of Pearl Bailey's early career begins at the end of 1947, with Bailey fresh from the success of her film debut, Variety Girl, and its career-making song, "Tired." During the next two years, she would refine her approach to jive rhythm and sweet singing, a relaxed sense of vocal cool that fused the exquisite phrasing of Billie Holiday to the hip majesty of Cab Calloway. The first two sessions include her usual studio orchestra of the time, led by Mitchell Ayres and featuring great work from Peanuts Hucko on clarinet and the Charioteers on vocal backing. Most of the rest are small-group dates, during which she recorded some of her finest material; present are two of her best performances, the gloriously swinging, exuberant duets "Baby, It's Cold Outside" featuring Hot Lips Page and "Saturday Night Fish Fry" featuring Moms Mabley. Even the obscure songs from this period are filled with great moments, as on the solos "Johnson Rag" and "Not Tonight," as well as her appearance with Tony Pastor on "Mamie Is Mimi." Fans looking to find more excellent material after enjoying a collection like Ain't She Sweet! will find much to love here on these sides, originally recorded for Columbia and Harmony.
AllMusic Review by John Bush