Jesse Belvin

The Unforgettable Mr. Easy

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Jesse Belvin was on the verge of major stardom when he and his wife were killed in a head-on auto accident on February 6, 1960, shortly after a performance in Little Rock, Arkansas. An almost perfect blend of Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke, yet with his own vocal flair and style, and a solid pianist and songwriter (he wrote "Earth Angel," a huge hit for the Penguins in 1954), Belvin left behind an all too brief but very impressive legacy, all of which is presented in this two-disc set. The first disc presents Belvin's early singles, including doo wop R&B shuffles like "Let Me Dream" and "Little Darling," while the second disc combines Belvin's two LPs, 1959's Just Jesse Belvin, which saw him moving into the realm of smooth, sophisticated pop with the hit ballad "Guess Who," and 1960's lush and brilliant Mr. Easy, which paired Belvin with Art Pepper on sax and clarinet and Jack Sheldon on trumpet, and featured wonderful orchestration from Marty Paich. The soulful late-night and uptown jazz sound of tracks like "Blues in the Night" show that Belvin was just hitting his creative stride when he died in 1960. He never lived to see the album released. Jasmine Records is a valuable reissue label, and kudos to them for putting together a release that covers Belvin's entire recorded career. It's a valuable catalog from a wonderful artist.

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