Dick Haymes

Rain or Shine

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The first of two albums that Dick Haymes cut for Capitol Records, Rain or Shine also happens to be one of the finest works of the vocalist's long career. Haymes was always a great singer (especially on ballads and torch songs) and it's a real shame his association with Capitol was so brief, since this album and its follow-up, Moondreams, are two of the best vocal jazz/traditional pop albums ever released. On Rain or Shine, Haymes brings his laid-back, deeply nuanced vocal style to a great set of romantic standards. Most often likened to his peer, Frank Sinatra, Haymes possessed a masculine baritone akin to Johnny Hartman, while his spare, introspective phrasing was closer to Chet Baker. Haymes started out as a big band singer and since jazz was in his blood, Rain or Shine finds him beautifully backed by a lightly swinging small jazz group and a small string section. Arranger Ian Bernard was part of the West Coast cool jazz movement and though the musicians aren't listed, they have to be culled from the finest Los Angeles had to offer (the set features the hippest drum work imaginable; it has got to be Shelly Manne or Mel Lewis sitting behind the skins). The intelligent charts allow plenty of room for short, tasty instrumental solos and they merge deftly with Haymes' jazz-inflected phrasing. Nobody was better than Haymes at this kind of romantic "after-hours" material and Rain or Shine equals Sinatra's Nice 'n' Easy as the finest slow-dance album of all time.

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