Various Artists

Kissing Jessica Stein

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Kissing Jessica Stein Review

by Alex Henderson

Romantic comedies aren't something new; back in 1938, Bringing up Baby (starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant) was the definitive romantic comedy of its time. But the genre has evolved over the years, and so have musical tastes. These days, the soundtracks of romantic comedies are likely to have a lot of adult contemporary or pop/rock because those styles of music appeal to their target audience: younger women. But the soundtrack of Kissing Jessica Stein, a romantic comedy from 2002, is a major exception. While other romantic comedy soundtracks will emphasize artists like Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, and Whitney Houston -- favorites in the adult contemporary market -- this CD is dominated by vocal jazz (with some traditional pre-rock pop here and there). Verve provides a few new recordings, but most of the soundtrack is devoted to older recordings by well-known vocalists like Anita O'Day ("Taking a Chance on Love"), Shirley Horn ("I Just Found out About Love"), Sarah Vaughan ("It's Crazy"), and Dinah Washington ("Teach Me Tonight"). The material is quite accessible -- nothing abstract or left of center -- and one doesn't have to be a really seasoned jazz fan to get into Ella Fitzgerald's version of "Manhattan" or Blossom Dearie's playful interpretation of "I Wish You Love." In fact, many of the jazz singers on this CD have over the years been able to appeal to pop fans who don't necessarily care for a lot of hardcore instrumental jazz; in other words, the type of listener who might love Vaughan and Fitzgerald but doesn't necessarily have a lot of John Coltrane or Art Blakey CDs in his/her collection. This is a pleasant, likable soundtrack that won't intimidate those who like their jazz singing accessible and easy to absorb.

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