A late entry in Verve's celebrated songbook series, which has featured the likes of Porter, Gershwin, Rogers & Hart, and Johnny Mercer in the past, That Old Black Magic spotlights the considerable talents of Broadway and Hollywood songsmith Harold Arlen. While best known for "Over the Rainbow," Arlen's rich store of quality songs also includes "Get Happy," "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues," "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)," "It's Only a Paper Moon," and "That Old Black Magic"; add to this stellar list relatively overlooked treasures like "Out of This World," "Down With Love," "A Sleepin' Bee," "When the Sun Comes Out," and "Last Night When We Were Young." Compiler Bobby Short (who, of course, is a celebrated standards singer in his own right) has paired these and other Arlen classics with a diverse array of top-notch interpreters of popular song. Taking in performances from 1952-1960, the 16 numbers here include performances by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, Anita O'Day, Mel Tormé, and Blossom Dearie. Thankfully, Short has also chosen to include interpretations by the somewhat obscure likes of Frances Faye, Margaret Whiting, Frank D'Rone, Ruth Olay, and Billy Daniels. A treat for the Arlen fan looking for more than just the everyday roundup featuring another A-list of jazz and pop voices.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook