Pete Fountain and Brenda Lee met in 1960 at the opening of Fountain's French Quarter Inn jazz club in New Orleans. The two enjoyed an impromptu on-stage jam session that led, eight years later, to For the First Time, a collaboration that pairs Lee's interpretive vocal abilities with Fountain's "Dixiepolitan" clarinet solos. The album deservedly became one of the last Top 100 charters for both artists. Although it is merely good overall, the unique instrumental setting is a welcome departure for Lee, whose late-'60s albums were often easy listening snoozers. Fountain, too, had an easy listening streak a mile wide, so Lee's vocal spots add some variety to melodies that are otherwise nothing new to him, like "Basin Street Blues," "Night and Day," and "Mood Indigo." The album mixes pop and jazz standards with contemporary pop songs like "The 59th Street Bridge Song" and the Association's "Windy," but the jazz-oriented numbers have a more timeless appeal. For the First Time isn't a masterpiece, but it does make one wonder whether Brenda Lee could have gained acceptance in the jazz field. After all, if Teresa Brewer did it...
AllMusic Review by Greg Adams