When Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's 1932 musical Music in the Air was revived on Broadway in 1951 in a production starring stage, recording, and radio veteran Jane Pickens, RCA Victor signed on to record the cast album. But the show ran less than two months, and RCA decided to make the recording more of a Pickens solo LP, using only her from the cast, singing seven songs from the score, plus the "Overture," performed by Al Goodman & His Orchestra, and a couple of choral numbers by the Guild Choristers. The album went out of print, but it has been unearthed in this unlicensed version by the British reissue label Sepia, taking advantage of the 50-year copyright limit on recordings in Europe. Sepia is one of the better labels specializing in public domain material, and this disc is really a sort of Jane Pickens best-of, adding 16 bonus tracks along with a good biographical write-up and plenty of vintage photos in the CD booklet. The bonus tracks, recorded between 1940 and 1952, find Pickens singing show tunes including "Summertime" and "The Man I Love" in a near-operatic soprano, though she also turns in a spirited reading of "Dixie" that recalls her Southern origins. She pairs effectively with fellow Broadway star Alfred Drake on two songs from Kiss Me, Kate, "Why Can't You Behave" and "Wunderbar." On the last two tracks, "Half a Heart" and "Intermezzo," she employs overdubbing to re-create the trio sound of her '30s sibling act, the Pickens Sisters. Perhaps because she largely abandoned show business for high society in the '50s, Pickens is less well remembered than some of her peers, but this album demonstrates her considerable talent.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Music in the Air, musical in 2 acts|
|Intermezzo, film score|