Rosemary Clooney

The Best of the Concord Years

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The fact that one of the most successful pop singers of the '50s went on to become one of the most acclaimed jazz singers of the '80s and '90s shouldn't be marked up to the simple attrition of the WWII generation of jazz vocalists. Rosemary Clooney was comfortable (and skilled) singing in many different circumstances, and the fact that she could exhibit endless reserves of patience when forced to record pop fluff during the '50s by no means affected her love for the Great American Songbook -- it may actually have intensified it. The Best of the Concord Years distills the best of her 25-year career with Concord, virtually the only label she recorded for after her mid-'70s comeback, and the only label where she was allowed to pick her own material. Facing the task of choosing only about 30 songs from her catalog of well over 300 titles, the compilers managed to illustrate Clooney's love for the songbook, picking uniformly excellent performances from her many tribute records: "Pennies from Heaven" from Rosie Sings Bing, "I Cover the Waterfront" from Here's to My Lady: A Tribute to Billie Holiday, "Cheek to Cheek" from Sings the Music of Irving Berlin, "Something's Gotta Give" from Sings the Lyrics of Johnny Mercer, and "A Foggy Day" from Dedicated to Nelson (Riddle). The accompaniment ranges from a duet with guitar (from 1985's Sings Ballads) to a full orchestra (from her throwback Girl Singer LP of 1992), and includes many features for her usual bandmates, including Warren Vaché on cornet, Scott Hamilton on tenor, and Cal Collins and later Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar. Like the similar volume on Mel Tormé, Clooney's Best of the Concord Years transforms an imposing, multiple-volume discography into one rewarding listen.

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