Long after their favorite singers have passed, vocal fans still have many avenues to hear new (to them) recordings from the peak era of vocal jazz. Alternate takes aside, radio transcriptions and broadcast programs are the two usually plundered for reissue. While most are hastily packaged and terribly mastered, the best of them occur in settings that are artistically advanced compared to the artist's usual studio sides. (Vocalists, like all other musicians, used opportunities like these to experiment and play around with ideas that would only later become fully fledged releases.) The Rosemary Clooney Show, a compilation from Concord, is one of the most valuable releases on an underrated artist that's ever been seen. It features 26 recordings from 1956, when Clooney's TV program -- basically self-produced -- featured the singer backed by Nelson Riddle, the prime arranger/conductor of the era, and the Hi-Lo's, the best vocal chorus in action. (Due to frequent label conflicts, Riddle and Clooney recorded together elsewhere much less frequently.) Michael Feinstein, the disc's producer, found the tapes in Clooney's home, played them for her well before her death, and earned her approval for a release -- which dismisses the lingering suspicion that these performances wouldn't have appeared during her lifetime. The music is sparkling and betrays no elements of its catch-all sources; in fact, most of these songs were recorded well before broadcast. Except for the brevity of most of these selections, these could easily have been released as a studio LP. Rarely allowed to record what she wished at Columbia, Clooney stretched out on her television show and appealed to older audiences with the standards she loved to sing; here, after getting a pair of novelties out of the way, she sprints joyously through two dozen standards. Among the highlights are a modernist version of "How About You" recorded with Bob Morse and the Hi-Lo's, and the balladry of "Moonlight in Vermont" and "A Foggy Day." Imagine if two of Clooney's finest LPs were shelved immediately after recording ended and only released 50 years after the fact; that's the impact of The Rosemary Clooney Show on her artistic legacy.
The Rosemary Clooney Show: Songs from the Classic Television Show Review
by John Bush
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