Rosemary Clooney

The Essential Rosemary Clooney

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The rub concerning Rosemary Clooney is that, like Kay Starr, she was an excellent jazz singer who was unfortunately chained to novelty material that, equally unfortunately, became popular and branded her as such in the eyes of the listening public. Given the chance, she excelled at any role given her: a big-band singer initially, a pop industry flag-bearer, and finally, a jazz vocalist with impeccable chops and great taste. The Essential Rosemary Clooney, though it focuses on the hits, does allow for the occasional glimpse of Clooney the artist during the late '50s. The hits "Come On-A My House," "Hey There," "Half As Much," and "This Ole House" don't inevitably lead to sound-alikes and inferior material; they lead to a collaboration with Duke Ellington (on "Blue Rose") and sharp readings of standards ("The Lady Is a Tramp," "From This Moment On"). Giving listeners only 16 tracks to hear what made Clooney special is definitely short shrift, but The Essential Rosemary Clooney does allow them to hear the many facets of an excellent artist without paying much for it.

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