Betty Roché

Sophisticated Ladies

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This single CD from the British Affinity label has two complete albums of unrelated material originally released by Bethlehem. Betty Roché's first of three albums features the underrated singer joined by trumpeter Conte Candoli, pianist Don Trenner, vibraphonist Eddie Costa, bassist Whitey Mitchell, and drummer Davey Williams. She does a fine remake of "Take the 'A' Train" (which she had recorded in memorable fashion with Duke Ellington several years earlier) and boppish renditions of such songs as "September in the Rain," "Route 66," and "Go Away Blues." Although this session is available in an Evidence reissue, obviously the Affinity CD is a better buy, for it also includes the only album recorded by singer Marilyn Moore. Moore, who is joined by a top-notch outfit including tenor saxophonist Al Cohn, trumpeter Joe Wilder, pianist Don Abney, guitarist Barry Galbraith, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Osie Johnson, sounds remarkably close to Billie Holiday. In fact, she is often too close to comfort on such numbers as "Ill Wind," "Trav'lin' All Alone," and "I Cried for You," which is probably why her career never really took off. Collectors of 1950s jazz-oriented vocal records will definitely want this generous CD.