There's been a spate of "Songs of Steve Allen" albums, including ones made by Buddy DeFranco/Terry Gibbs, Andy Williams, Roseanna Vitro, and Frankie Randall, among others. Now comes another entry, Carol Jolin and husband Tom Kubis' fine effort for Sea Breeze Jazz. This album is good, more than for the playing than the songs due to the imaginative arrangements and orchestrations by Kubis which are executed by interested, talented musicians all mixed with the well-fashioned vocal styling of Jolin. Allen's songs have never sounded better.
The arrangements and orchestrations are varied, and Latin rhythms are favored, including the kick off tune "Doin' the Samba," wisely selected to get attention, and "If You Ever Leave Me, I'm Going With You," where Allen is Cole Porter at his most cynical. Gallic is available on "Mon Ami" and big band swing on "Cupid (Aim at His Heart)" and "The Usual Place." Cute describes "Nice Little Girls" as Kubis and Jolin's daughter takes the last line asking "Am I a nice little girl?" But it's the romantic ballads that steal the show and catch the ear. Especially poignant is the rendition of a rarely heard Billy Strayhorn melody "I Never Knew Love Till You" (with lyrics by Allen), as Andy Martin's moving lyrical trombone blends with Jolin's breathy contralto. This cut is the highlight of the album followed closely by "That's What I'd Call a Dream" with Kubis' floating flute commanding attention. The only clinker on the set is the title tune which, despite the efforts of Jolin and Jack Sheldon's flittering trumpeting, comes out as bland and uninspiring. But that one bad spot is overwhelmingly made up for by the rest of the CD.
Kudos to the fine support given to Jolin and Kubis. In addition to those already mentioned, there's the guitar by Michael Higgins, the solid trumpets of Gary Halopoff and George Graham, along with Wayne Bergeron's mellow flugelhorn on "They Said It Wouldn't Last." This album is a creative presentation of Steve Allen's music and is recommended.