Cleo Brown impressed a lot of folks with her jazz piano and swinging vocals during the 1930s and 1940s before abruptly retiring from her recording career until Marian McPartland coaxed her into appearing on her NPR radio program, as well as making a final CD for Jazzology, both near the end of Brown's life. This Hep compilation includes 27 of Brown's recordings from the 1930s. While many of these songs have long since fallen into obscurity, Brown's approach to songs sometimes suggests Fats Waller, though she is a bit more subtle with her vocals than Waller. Her rapid-fire treatment of Pinetop Smith's "Boogie Woogie" is easily the most memorable track, though her stride piano chops in her own "Pelican Stomp" (an unaccompanied performance) are also quite impressive. The source material for this CD varies quite a bit in sound quality, but the digital remastering minimizes the distraction of the occasional noisy track. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden