Living Era's Cole Porter tribute album presents 24 nostalgic recordings dating from this composer's golden years: 1927-1948. Two of these -- "Anything Goes" and "You're the Top" -- feature Porter himself at the piano, singing his own clever lyrics in a high, effete voice that evokes visions of late-night tippling and reckless visits to the waterfront district in search of lonesome sailors. Porter is the only singer who appears twice on this collection. Ethel Merman, arguably the first great interpreter of Porter songs, is assigned "I Get a Kick Out of You." The Revelers, best known as the vocal group who in 1928 popularized the song "In a Little Spanish Town," contribute a marvelous interpretation of "I'm in Love Again." If Bing Crosby seems an oddly sanitary candidate for "Let's Do It," the best of the vocalists -- Lee Wiley, Jo Stafford, Mary Martin, Dinah Shore, and Fred Astaire -- are wonderfully well chosen. This compilation is also well endowed with great jazz and dance bands, ranging from Leo Reisman, Eddy Duchin, Carroll Gibbons, and the Dorsey Brothers to Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Paul Weston. As is the case with most Living Era collections, some of the performers reflect the preferences of London audiences and of polite society in Boston and New York during the 1930s and '40s. Examples of this refined "upper crust" dynamic are Libby Holman, Douglas Byng, Leslie A. Hutchinson, melodramatic Frances Langford, and operetta-immaculate soprano Patricia Morison. This collection may serve as a good introduction to Cole Porter's songs, but it represents only the tiniest fraction of a much larger socio-musical equation. During the 1950s, the love songs of Cole Porter enabled great Afro-American jazz musicians like Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald, Erroll Garner, Ben Webster, and Sarah Vaughan to attain extraordinary heights of artistic expression. The prologue to all of that lies right here in this historic Living Era salute to Cole Porter.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: The Revelers
feat: Leslie A. Hutchinson