Rosemary Clooney

From Bing to Billie

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Rosemary Clooney's career had faltered after the mid-'60s, so her signing in 1977 by Concord Jazz launched a comeback that found her recording regularly for them until shortly before her death in 2002. This two-CD compilation combines two of her earliest recordings for the label. The first date, recorded in early 1978, is a tribute to her dear friend Bing Crosby (who had died a few months prior to the session), with whom she had appeared in various movies and on several LPs. She is backed by a superb band, including pianist Nat Pierce, tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, guitarist Cal Collins, bassist Monty Budwig, and drummer Jake Hanna. Clooney is in great voice, covering a number of standards favored by Crosby, including a lush "I Surrender Dear," a swinging take of Crosby's own "Where the Blue of the Night," and a heartfelt "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral" accompanied solely by Collins on guitar. The same band was on hand (adding cornetist Warren Vaché) later in 1978 to back Clooney for a salute to Billie Holiday. Though her vocal style is nothing at all like Holiday's, her swinging performances of the ten standards on this session have stood the test of time extremely well. She especially excels with her interpretations of Holiday's "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)" and an emotional "Don't Explain."

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