Mildred Bailey

The Rockin' Chair Lady [Living Era]

  • AllMusic Rating
    10
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

In honor of what would have been her 100th birthday, Living Era presents a double-CD tribute to Mildred Bailey that should be considered among the very best in her entire digital discography. One of at least five Bailey compilations with the words "Rockin' Chair" in the title, this 50-track "Centenary Issue" deserves high praise for excellent sound quality, intelligent liner notes, meticulously researched discographical information, and the beautifully colorized and retouched photograph of Bailey that graces the album, inside and out. After opening with her famous 1937 rendering of Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair," the well-chosen titles are presented in chronological sequence, beginning with a handful of sides recorded during the period when she was a satellite of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (1929-1931). Throughout the 1930s, Bailey surrounded herself with some of the world's finest jazz musicians, including Benny Goodman, Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Teddy Wilson, Johnny Hodges, Bunny Berigan, and Roy Eldridge. Three of Fats Waller's best tunes were trundled out for her Alley Cats session of December 6, 1935; here's a rare opportunity to hear Andy Razaf's lyrics to Waller's hauntingly beautiful, almost always instrumentally rendered "Willow Tree." The Mildred Bailey/Red Norvo partnership is well documented here, beginning with their 1936 recording of "A Porter's Love Song to a Chambermaid," first introduced by Fats Waller & His Rhythm in 1934. In 1938 and 1939, Bailey made a series of excellent recordings with the John Kirby Sextet, a quartet led by Mary Lou Williams, and the Benny Goodman Orchestra. The closing chapters of this portrait album find the singer backed by ensembles under the direction of Alec Wilder and Ellis Larkins; her exquisitely relaxed 1946 interpretation of Walter Donaldson's "At Sundown" is positively analgesic. This edition is the best conceivable introduction to Mildred Bailey; anyone duly smitten should then pursue her complete recorded works -- with and without Red Norvo -- reissued in chronological sequence by the Classics label.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:14
2
feat: Eddie Lang
3:24
3 3:30
4 3:28
5 2:58
6 3:08
7 2:51
8 3:05
9 3:14
10
3:33
11 3:19
12 3:02
13 3:07
14 3:27
15 3:18
16 3:17
17 3:08
18 2:57
19 3:05
20 3:16
21 2:55
22 2:56
23 2:36
24 3:00

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:02
2 2:37
3 3:18
4 2:51
5 2:37
6 3:01
7 2:56
8 2:59
9
2:50
10 2:49
11 2:46
12 2:55
13 2:59
14 3:02
15 2:48
16 2:46
17 2:52
18
2:40
19 3:10
20 2:51
21 2:59
22 2:42
23 3:11
24 3:10
25 3:24
26 3:01
blue highlight denotes track pick