Living Era's tribute to songwriter Jerome Kern touches upon many of his finest melodies with recordings made between 1925 and 1947. The stylistic range, however, seems at times a bit stuffy given Kern's lasting influence upon the jazz world. While Dinah Shore, Connee Boswell and Fred Astaire each perform exquisitely, the genteel inflections of James Melton, Frances Langford and Lawrence Tibbett impose a sugar-glazed rigidity that could have been avoided if the producers had sprinkled in a few hipper versions by Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Frankie Newton or Sarah Vaughan. Perhaps the intention here was to invoke sensibilities as endearingly old-fashioned as Kern himself. Period charm emanates from dance bands led by George Olsen, Leo Reisman and Eddy Duchin; Paul Robeson was the natural choice for "Ol' Man River," and Noël Coward makes "The Last Time I Saw Paris" sound as though he'd written it for himself. If Jerome Kern were alive today he would very likely approve of the way this album is put together. After savoring these predominately "straight" renditions, listeners may want to consult with Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, for it is within their discographies that Jerome Kern's music is best rendered and appreciated.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Bing Crosby
feat: Noël Coward