Justin Hayford

A Rare Find

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Chicago's Justin Hayford is a versatile individual. He spent several years directing in the theater and teaching political science at Northwestern before settling into careers as journalist and AIDS activist. He still finds time to perform at some of Chicago's better bistros, such as Davenport's, specializing in restoring obscure works from the 1930s and 1940s and sometimes from later years, too. Fortunately for the audience and CD listener, Hayford understands that the major reason for a song's obscurity is because it isn't very good. But with a discerning ear, Hayford has burnished long-laying-around-doing-nothing musical gems from such composers as Billy Rose, Steve Allen, Frank Loesser, and Bobby Troup. Some of the tunes are early efforts of composers who went on to much better things. Accompanying himself at the piano, Hayford delivers this material with a cool, clear voice. Most of the cuts are upbeat, medium-tempo tunes that Hayford clearly feels more at ease with, such as "Love Me As I Am," where he whistles a chorus. "According to the Moonlight," an Alice Faye favorite, also gets the whistling treatment. Some tunes aren't all that obscure. "Do I Worry" was an Ink Spots hit in the 1940s. Similarly, "Humpty Dumpty Heart" was a winner for both Kay Kyser and Glenn Miller. But there haven't been many recordings since then, and it's good that they are revived from time to time. This is an album of pleasant tunes performed with such elan and verve that they don't sound dated. Recommended.

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