Eva Taylor

Edison Laterals 4

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Eva Taylor is best known for appearing on a lengthy series of recordings during the 1920s and early '30s with her husband, pianist/composer/bandleader Clarence Williams. Taylor's sophisticated yet soulful sound was often a little reminiscent of Ethel Waters, and there was always an appealing sweetness to her singing, even when interpreting occasional double-entendre songs. The formerly rare music on this very interesting CD puts the focus throughout on her voice. Unfortunately, the songs differ in order from the listing on the back cover (although they are all here), so a little more quality control should have occurred, but the performances are consistently delightful. Recorded originally for the Edison label, there are eight selections from three sessions in 1929, along with three alternate takes, and most excitingly: all but two numbers were previously unreleased. In most cases, Taylor is accompanied only by Williams' piano, although on two songs she is joined by a colorful six-piece band. Even if the lyrics of "In Our Cottage of Love" get a bit sticky, such tunes as "You Don't Understand," "Have You Ever Felt That Way," and "You Don't Understand" are strong enough to deserve revivals. In the middle of the CD (separating the main takes from the alternate versions) are some very interesting late-period examples of Eva Taylor. Recorded at a couple of private concerts, Taylor is heard in 1976 doing an ad-lib a cappella version of "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" (the verse plus two strong choruses), and in 1977 performing five songs while backed by an unidentified pianist (who does his best on an out of tune instrument). Eva Taylor shows that her voice was still in pretty good shape later in her life. Highly recommended to vintage jazz collectors.

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