Various Artists

Café Après-midi: Pastille

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The international spirit that is the calling card of the entire Café Après-midi series touches down in Northern California's Bay Area for Pastille. Scouring the vaults of regional labels like Fantasy and Concord, compiler Toru Hashimoto focuses much of his energies on turning up obscure tracks from female vocalists, including Ernestine Anderson ("All I Need Is You"), Bobbe Norris ("You're Free"), and Alice Babs ("Been to Canaan"), adding more familiar material from the likes of Rosemary Clooney ("I Believe in Love"), Ella Fitzgerald ("You Are the Sunshine of My Life"), and Petula Clark (the immortal "Don't Sleep in the Subway") for a set that celebrates the beauty and passion of the distaff voice more than any other entry in the series. That is not to suggest that Hashimoto turns his back on his old standby, bossa nova -- cuts like Dom Um Romao's "Escravos de Jo" and Tânia Maria's "Come With Me" keep the tempo lively and the ambience sun-soaked.