Pearl Bailey

Takes Two to Tango

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Outspokenness and the art of the clever aside are essential components of the African-American performance tradition. Bessie Smith, Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon, Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller each developed a distinctive manner of talking over the music as if to dispel the sort of pretensions that so often cluttered up conventional mainstream pop music. Pearl Bailey grew directly from this fine and candid tradition; she brought her own blend of classic African-American verism to the record-buying and theater-attending public during the 1940s, '50s and '60s. With Takes Two to Tango, Living Era examines the first nine years of Pearlie Mae's recording career, beginning with "Tess' Torch Song," recorded with Cootie Williams and his orchestra on January 6, 1944 and subsequently released on the Hit record label. Present in this dynamic ensemble were Cleanhead Vinson and Lockjaw Davis, as well as young pianist and musical genius Bud Powell. Out of her many Columbia recordings made with a band led by Mitchell Ayres, "Tired" and "I Ain't Talkin' (Though It's All Over Town)" stand out as two of her all-time greatest recorded performances. This invigorating compilation, which also includes Pearl Bailey's duets with Frank Sinatra, Hot Lips Page, and Moms Mabley, closes with "Vagabond Shoes," a rare example of her work with young Gil Evans in 1950 and several examples of this singer's magnificent collaborations with the great Don Redman and his orchestra. Her 1952 Coral recording of "Takes Two to Tango" should really be heard back to back with Lester Young's bizarre vocal rendition of the same tune.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:03
2 2:38
3 2:56
4 2:13
5 3:21
6 3:07
7
2:46
8 3:15
9 3:13
10 3:13
11 3:07
12 6:33
13
2:41
14 2:50
15 2:44
16 3:00
17 3:00
18 3:04
19
feat: Moms Mabley
2:56
20 2:34
21 3:23
22 2:50
23 2:32
24 2:46
25 2:51
blue highlight denotes track pick