The multi-award-winning Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific had been languishing in obscurity until its Lincoln Center revival in 2009. Harry Allen and Joe Cohn decided to give these tunes their own jazz take, something that had been done before, but not to this extent of swinging and bopping them. With vocalists Rebecca Kilgore and Eddie Erickson, this island setting of a postcard love affair gone wrong via bigotry is rendered in heartfelt tones by the singers, and jammed on by the instrumentalists in a carefree manner that easily reflects the idea of a getaway-from-reality holiday. Though not done with Latin trim, the story lines expressed by Kilgore and Erickson do take the tropical setting into account, contrasting the ins and outs of love versus lust far from home. Kilgore is particularly miffed at her man during the more commercially known "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair," but easily turns around with cute praise for "A Wonderful Guy." Erickson is much more under a swoon on several tracks like the corny, fluffy "Honeybun," sounding very much like Jack Sheldon, but has to concede he has everything but the girl for "There Is Nothin' Like a Dame" and readily admits to cheating on "My Girl Back Home." Most of the songs are in easy swing mode, but "Twin Soliloquies" is a Brazilian lover's paradise song, "Some Enchanted Evening" is an eight-plus-minute discourse on the blues as they question the pairing, and "You've Got to Be Taught" represents a preachy cautionary tale on hormonal overflow. There are three strictly instrumental numbers: the good bopper for Allen "Bloody Mary," the ballad for the cool tenor man "Dite-Moi," and the exceptional feature for Cohn "Happy Talk" (where his co-leader follows along). John McDonough includes some detailed liner notes about the three-pronged history of South Pacific, including the Broadway stage show in the late '20s to early '30s, the film version in 1958, and current activities in reviving it. A credible effort by these reliable musicians gives the tunes further cachet, not updated by any means but given new life and accented with a skeptical, doubtful, and timeless warning about life and instant love affairs.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos