Various Artists

Blue Vocals, Vol. 2

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In contrast to Vol. 1's mix of classic male jazz vocalists like Louis Armstrong, Nat Cole, and Mel Tormé, Blue Vocals, Vol. 2 heads to the other side, with 18 gems by the ladies at the microphone. The mix ranges from the years 1945-1990, and takes in both combo sides and big band numbers. Beyond stellar cuts by Sarah Vaughan ("'Round Midnight"), Billie Holiday ("Detour Ahead"), and Dinah Washington ("I Wanna Be Around"), there are minor classics like Dakota Staton's "Late Late Show" and Sheila Jordan's "Baltimore Oriole." Adding to the varied mix, there are also big band-era numbers by Kay Starr and Jo Stafford and '60s standouts by Betty Carter and Nancy Wilson. And while latter day offerings by Dianne Reeves and Rachelle Ferrell substantiate the claim that many modern jazz singers sound a tad affected, more vintage sides by Peggy Lee, June Christy, and Carmen McRae keep things on the right track. Topped off with fine musical accompaniment from the likes of Benny Carter, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Teddy Edwards, and Hank Jones -- not to mention some excellent arranging by Pete Rugolo, Gerald Wilson, and Johnny Mandel -- Blue Vocals, Vol. 2 qualifies as one of the best classic jazz and pop vocal collections available.

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