Hoagy Carmichael

Stardust Melody: Beloved and Rare Songs of Hoagy Carmichael

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This project in tribute to composer Hoagy Carmichael is a true labor of love, as trumpeter Dick Sudhalter and friends explore a host of Carmichael's songs -- famous, obscure, and in between. The cast of musicians and singers changes from track to track, with trombonist Tom Artin and reed player Dan Levinson; a solid rhythm section including either Benny Aronov or Bob Dorough on piano, guitarist Howard Alden, bassist Jim Ferguson, and drummer Joe Cocuzzo; and arrangements by either Sy Johnson or Keith Nichols. Dorough is at his best with a very campy vocal in "New Orleans." The sweet southern voice of Ferguson in "Georgia on My Mind" is combined in a warm medley with Barbara Lea's beautiful interpretation of "Can't Get Indiana off My Mind," while they exchange vocals in a mesmerizing take of Carmichael's best-known work, "Star Dust." Unfortunately, the duet between the craggy-voiced Dorough and Lea in an old-fashioned waltz arrangement doesn't quite come off. The playful treatment of the little-known "What Kind o' Man Is You" (with lyrics by Carmichael) features Lea supported by Ferguson's swinging bass and Sudhalter's delicious muted trumpet. Instrumentals aren't ignored, with a gently loping "Snowball" and a classic jazz chestnut "Manhattan Rag." This well-conceived project should be considered essential by anyone who enjoys the works of the great Hoagy Carmichael.

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