A voice teacher and a singer's singer, Jeri Southern was also one of the most consistently underrated vocalists of the '50s. Her volume in EMI's The Ultimate series helps listeners rediscover an artist who infused the torch song with devastating ennui, a shimmering pool of melancholy that Julie London barely skimmed the surface of. The generous 24-track program focuses on her late-'50s material for Roulette and Capitol. The label does her no favors by opening with "Nice Work If You Can Get It" and "I Get a Kick Out of You," two of the most ebullient standards in vocal jazz; Southern usually excelled when given brooding or satirical material that usually enabled her to cultivate her unlucky-in-love persona, such as "Who Wants to Fall in Love?" or "Coffee, Cigarettes and Memories." Fortunately, there's much more like those two on this compilation, which wisely includes much of her 1958 masterpiece Southern Breeze and 1959's Jeri Southern Meets Cole Porter.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush