Nancy Wilson

Like in Love

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Capitol Records was the place to be a jazz-pop vocalist in the 1950s and early '60s, and with this winning debut, Nancy Wilson proved herself to be up to the challenge of recording alongside such labelmates as Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, and Peggy Lee. Only 22 years old on her first recording date, Wilson's Sarah Vaughan-meets-Dinah Washington vocal style was already firmly in place and is perfectly in sync with star arranger Billy May's typically expert big band jazz charts. Many of May's backings, particularly the ballads such as "Fly Me to the Moon," have a subtle Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn luster to them. Not only does Duke's star alto saxophonist Willie Smith contribute some choice solos on this date, but Wilson gets to sing Strayhorn's sublime "Passion Flower." While this solid release had the swank Capitol house sound down, it was actually Wilson's two small-group jazz recordings with George Shearing and Cannonball Adderley that would break her to the general public and help turn her into the label's biggest-selling act of the early '60s. As good as those small group sessions were, Wilson would thankfully continue working with the gifted Billy May and their next recording together, 1960's Something Wonderful, somehow managed to improve on this winning debut and remains one of her all-time best albums.

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