NOTE: Although the artists on the preceding pages were contemporaries of Sinatra, few, if any of the vocalists match him on an artistic level.  But here is where we begin to find other artists who, while also contemporaries, were also great artists and entertainers in their own right.  Sinatra appreciated others talents, and always expressed admiration and praise from several of his musical comrades.  These stars come from all different backgrounds, jazz, broadway, cabaret and many from big bands, like Frank himself did.  If you haven't heard these folks, you may find some real treasures among their music.

Peggy Lee & Benny Goodman: The Complete Recordings 1941-1947
Sony 65686 [CD];
Released June 15, 1999

Disc: 1
1. Elmer's Tune
2. I See a Million People (But All I Can See Is You)
3. That's the Way It Goes
4. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
5. My Old Flame
6. How Deep Is the Ocean?
7. Shady Lady Bird
8. Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)
9. Somebody Else Is Taking My Place
10. Somebody Nobody Loves
11. How Long Has This Been Going On?
12. That Did It, Marie
13. Winter Weather
14. Ev'rything I Love
15. Not Mine
16. Not a Care in the World
17. My Old Flame [#]
18. How Deep Is the Ocean? [#]
19. Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)
Disc: 2
1. Blues in the Night
2. Where or When
3. On the Sunny Side of the Street  Listen Listen    
4. Lamp of Memory (Incertidumbre) [Alternate Take][#]
5. If You Build a Better Mousetrap [Alternate Take][#]
6. When the Roses Bloom Again [#]  
7. My Little Cousin    
8. Way You Look Tonight    
9. I Threw a Kiss in the Ocean    
10. We'll Meet Again    
11. Full Moon (Noche de Luna)   
12. There Won't Be a Shortage of Love [#]    
13. You're Easy to Dance With [#]   
14. All I Need Is You    
15. Why Don't You Do Right?   
16. Let's Say a Prayer [#]   
17. Freedom Train    
18. Keep Me in Mind [#]   
19. For Every Man There's a Woman

On the short list of contenders for female counterparts to Frank Sinatra would have to be Peggy Lee, whose long and distinguished career began much as Frank's did, as a singer with a band, and Peggy was snapped up by one of the best - Benny Goodman.  But Peggy Lee could not merely sing, in that strangely captivating, world-weary voice she always had, but she soon displayed her formidable writing chops as well.  Peggy Lee, like Sinatra, always had a strong element of sexuality about her singing, and, like Sinatra, was grounded in Jazz stylings, but wasn't a true Jazz singer, leaning towards true popular singing, although, unlike Frank, she wasn't tied to the Great American Songbook as closely as Frank was, incorporating heavier blues into her sound.  This fantastic double-disc set shows all her qualities firmly in place, seemingly fully matured when these early discs were cut.  Goodman's band was always more purely jazz-oriented than Dorsey, giving these cuts a free-swinging, loose attitude, where Dorsey was always more mannered and upper-crust.  Goodman also relied more on brass and woodwinds, complimenting his own inimitable clarinet playing.  Peggy Lee is full front and center here, and from the first cut, she sounds completely in charge, singing songs which would become standards for her, including "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)," "Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)," "How Deep Is The Ocean," "How Long Has This Been Goin' On?" and the seminal "Why Don't You Do Right?" which is the perfect showcase for her bluesy sensibilities.  To be honest, Peggy Lee has never been a big favorite of mine; her emotional range seems to be limited, never able to climb to any great heights of joy, and lending a sheen of irony to even the sad songs, but there are lots of fans who would argue this point - the real mark of Lee's talent is her impact and longevity, which is arguably as lengthy as Frank's own career.  This set is the place to start, and after this you should reach for...

The Best Of Miss Peggy Lee
Capitol 97308 [CD]; 
Released October 20, 1998

1. Waiting for the Train to Come In
2. I Don't Know Enough About You
3. It's All over Now
4. It's a Good Day
5. Chi-Baba Chi-Baba (My Bambino Go to Sleep)
6. Golden Earrings
7. Why Don't You Do Right?
8. Mañana (Is Soon Enough for Me)
9. Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend)
10. Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe
11. Fever
12. Alright, Okay, You Win
13. I'm a Woman
14. Pass Me By
15. Big Spender
16. Is That All There Is?

REVIEW:  This is really the CD to go for if you only want one of Peggy Lee's, or are looking for a good place to start, since many of these songs are the ones which became her signature songs, including "Fever," ""Why Don't You Do Right?" "Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe," and "Big Spender" among others.  Peggy Lee's time at Capitol was her most influential and most commercially successful, with her breathy, whispered vocals so sultry and different from anything else on the radio that she immediately shot to fame as a new kind of jazz chanteusse.  Her style is predominent throughout, from the lazy, hot-summer attitude on "Waiting for the Train to Come In" and "I Don't Know Enough About You;" as well as the moderate despair found on "It's All Over Now" to the bouncy swing of "It's a Good Day" and the scat-style singing found on "Chi Baba Chi Baba (My Bambino Go To Sleep)."  The minimilist arrangment on the exotic "Golden Earrings" is very welcome, and of course "Why Don't You Do Right?" captures perfectly the sleazy, other-side-of-the-tracks attitude which was so scandelous in the 1940s.  But Peggy Lee wasn't afraid to tackle Country & Western, as on the surprisingly successful "Riders In The Sky" or sink into the molasses blues of "Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe," which, to me, is Lee at her most alluring.  Enough has been written about "Fever" to place it in the class of songs which have veered into parody, but it still packs a midnight punch.  And the R&B groove she brings to "Alright, Okay, You Win" and "I'm A Women" really set Lee apart from other ingenues of the time.  This contrasts nicely with the carnival air found on "Pass Me By" and "Big Spender."  Overall this is a remarkable disc, with variety, an overabundance of style, and the best representation of Peggy Lee's versatility you're likely to find.  For an even richer and more comprehensive portrait of Lee's career, you should check out the Complete Singles box set, which spans her entire career, and is a real eye-opener. 

Jukebox Ella: The Complete Verve Singles, Volume One
Verve B0000092-02 [CD]; 
Released September 30, 2003

  1. Stay There
  2. Sun Forgot To Shine This Morning, The
  3. Too Young For The Blues
  4. It's Only A Man
  5. Beale Street Blues
  6. Beautiful Friendship, A
  7. Silent Treatment, The
  8. Hear My Heart
  9. Hotta Chocolotta
  10. A-Tisket, A-Tasket
  11. Teach Me How To Cry
  12. Swingin' Shepherd Blues
  13. Your Red Wagon
  14. Travelin' Light
  15. Oh, What A Night For Love
  16. Dreams Are Made For Children
  17. But Not For Me
  18. Christmas Song, The 
  1. Secret Of Christmas, The
  2. We Three Kings Of Orient Are / O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  3. Ich Fuhle Mich Crazy :: You're Driving Me Crazy
  4. Mr. Paganini (You'll Have To Swing It)
  5. Call Me Darling
  6. Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home
  7. Ol' Man Mose
  8. Desafinado
  9. Stardust Bossa Nova
  10. All The Live Long Day
  11. I'm A Poached Egg (Without Toast)
  12. Ringo Beat
  13. I'm Fallin' In Love
  14. She's Just A Quiet Girl
  15. We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, And Me)
  16. Shadow Of Your Smile, The
  17. Place For Lovers, A
  18. Lonely Is

REVIEW:  Ella Fitzgerald is rightly considered by many to be female equivalent of Frank Sinatra, and this double-disc collection, taken from her lengthy and productive tenure at Verve Records, is a great place to discover the reasons why.  Ella could swing, as on "Too Young For The Blues" and the favorite "(You'll Have To Swing It) Mr. Paganini," or croon as on "Teach Me How To Cry" and "The Shadow Of Your Smile."  As Frank did on Capitol Records, Ella cut these singles separately from her albums (more about those later), and these singles were meant to be spun on Jukeboxes and on the radio, so they have a brightness and sparkle in the arrangments meant to catch the listener's ear in a different manner than on an LP; "It's Only A Man" is given a richly cinematic string section that sweeps out of the speakers and "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" (one of Ella's earliest hits for Decca) receives a stylish re-thinking here, but with Ella, the selling point was always her voice; a rich, precise instrument that has a bit of a laugh in it, giving the ballads a sweetness and lightness, and her swinging songs a bright, shiny newness which even Frank would be hard-pressed to match.  Beyond her voice, Ella was given songs while at Verve that matched her artistry, and intelligent arrangements to serve each song - just listen to the ragtime feel and sighing clarinet accompianment on "Beale Street Blues" or her masterful scatting duet with a flute during "Swingin' Shepherd Blues" which never has a note out of place.  Ella, after years of having been given sub-standard material at Decca, was treated like a crown jewel at Verve, and this awesome set proves that every music-lover's collection ought to have a healthy selection of Ella.  Which leads me to the whole enchilada...

The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks
Verve 19832 [CD];
Released November 2, 1993


Features include:

  • 16-CD box set including every songbook Ella recorded with Verve, covering the years 1956-1964
  • Reproductions of orignal booklets, posters, and album sleeves, with original and new liner notes included.
  • Music digitally remastered
  • Artists include Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin, and Duke Ellington
  • Bonus material, including false starts, studio chatter, and more!

REVIEW:  Truly, five stars are not enough for this set, a masterwork of epic proportions and a landmark in the appreciation of American Popular Music.  Verve took a chance on such an expansive (and expensive) project, but Ella rose to the challenge magnificently and, while not every album is the equal of each other, the sheer amount of riches here, and the loving care evident in the packaging and presentation makes this set indispensable.  Ella recorded her first songbook in 1956, beginning with Cole Porter and for the next nine years covered composers as diverse as Rogers and Hart (no Hammerstein here), George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, and finally finished up the series with Johnny Mercer in 1964.  The songs included are the cream of American talent: "All Through The Night," "Anything Goes," "Too Darn Hot," "I Get A Kick Out Of You," "Begin the Beguine," "Don't Fence Me In" "Where Or When," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Johnny One-Note," "Thou Swell," "Where Or When," "I Could Write A Book," "My Funny Valentine," "Take The "A" Train," "I'm Beginning To See The Light," "Perdido," "Sophisticated Lady," "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" and on and on (and on!).  Each song is given an intelligent arrangement, which can turn the song on it's ear, or remain faithful to the original intent, but it's all class, and the love and attention which these songs receive from the First Lady of Song can only be described as reverential.  The box set itself is a marvel, with each composer receiving their own gatefold sleeve, reproducing the original albums, down to liner notes, photographs (even a minature book on the Gershwins which was included with the LP release!) and tucked into the back is a brand-new set of liner notes written for this release, along with bonus tracks tacked onto the end of almost every disc.  It's been written that Ella Fitzgerald (along with Frank Sinatra) are to be credited almost exclusively with preseving and promoting the songs of these composers and giving them the plaudits they deserve, and one listen will prove that this set lives up to every accolade it's received.  Absolutely essential.  For those who don't want to jump into a set this huge without knowing what it's all about, check out the single-disc sampler which Verve has thoughtfully released.

Judy Garland In Hollywood: Her Greatest Movie Hits - Original Soundtrack Performances 1936-1963 
Rhino Movie Music/TCM Music 75292 [CD]; 
Released October 27, 1998

1. Texas Tornado
2. You Made Me Love You
3. Over the Rainbow
4. I'm Nobody's Baby
5. F.D.R. Jones
6. For Me and My Gal
7. Trolley Song
8. Boy Next Door
9. On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe [Excerpt]
10. Look for the Silver Lining
11. Mack the Black
12. Easter Parade - Fred Astaire
13. Johnny One Note
14. Last Night When We Were Young [Outtake]
15. Happy Harvest
16. Friendly Star
17. Get Happy
18. Gotta Have Me Go With You
19. Man That Got Away
20. Little Drops of Rain
21. Hello Bluebird
22. By Myself
23. I Could Go on Singing (Till the Cows Come Home)

REVIEW:  For a lot of folks, Judy Garland as a singer is an acquired taste.  Her big, adult voice, coming out of her tiny body, tied together with her flamboyant, quirky performances which often melded a trembling patheticism with brash, brauvara outbursts made her a star of screen and later the concert stage.  But her record albums were never the break-out hits of Sinatra, and her recording career was always an offshoot of her film and concert successes.  So it's here, on this CD, Judy Garland in Hollywood, which you'll find her most memorable performances, and her most popular successes.  Whereas Frank Sinatra's screen music was almost always second-best, (and his performances tended to match the music he was given), Garland always shone in her screen music.  Her dewy-eyed adolescent roles were blended with her knack for punching a song across the stage-lights into early hits like "You Made Me Love You," and the swinging "The Texas Tornado."  She claimed film immortality with "Over The Rainbow" (sadly, the only number here from The Wizard of Oz), before being cast in a number of juvenile roles with Andy Rooney (noted here with the songs "I'm Nobody's Baby" and the fun "F.D.R. Jones").  Her next big smash on screen was with Meet Me In St. Louis, where she was given a pair of powerhouse numbers: "The Trolley Song" and "The Boy Next Door".  Her final classic screen musical role was in The Harvey Girls (where she sings the Academy Award-winning "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe").  But then her star began to wane, with increasingly erratic behavior and poor health, but while her film vehicles became more scattershot in their successes, she was still able to sell a song, as in "Mack The Black" from The Pirate; "Easter Parade" performed with Fred Astaire, "Friendly Star" and "Get Happy" from the uneven Summer Stock, and "The Man That Got Away" from her final big star turn in A Star Is Born.  The CD closes with three songs from her final film role, I Could Go On Singing, which shows just how far her voice had changed, gaining a wide vibrato, but lending a wellspring of pathos to her numbers that plumbed greater emotional depths.  For casual fans, this is probably the only CD you'll need to own, but for those who are moved by her bi-polar extremes of joy and pathos, you'll want to check out her extensive discography of available recordings.

Judy Garland: "The Letter" - Original Music & Lyrics By Gordon Jenkins
Originally released in 1959 on Capitol as SWAO-1188 [LP]; DRG-CD 19107 [CD]; 
Released March 13, 2007

Judy Garland - The Letter
1. Beautiful Trouble
2. Love in the Village
3. Charley's Blues
4. Worst Kind of Man
5. That's All There Is
6. Love in Central Park
7. Red Balloon
8. Fight
9. At the Stroke of Midnight
10. Come Back
11. Beautiful Trouble (Alternate Take)
12. That's All There Is, There Isn't Any More (Alternate Take)
13. The Worst Kind Of Man (Alternate Take)
14. The Red Balloon (Alternate Take)

REVIEW:  I had heard much about this album over the past few years - I'd been curious about it, hearing that it was one of Judy's most 'personal' albums, and that it's release on CD had been held up by the wishes of her family.  Well, here comes 2007 and DRG Records has managed to wrest the three-track stereo masters out of Capitol's vaults, and voila!  The Letter arrives sounding full and clear and, to be honest, a bit of a mess.  Blame falls squarely on the shoulders of sometimes-Sinatra arranger/composer Gordon Jenkins, who attempts to fashion, not an album, but a chamber musical not unlike Leonard Bernstein's Trouble In Tahiti.  And the concept for such a small piece is adventurous, with a forlorn love letter being the impetus for a range of emotions and flashback scenes that haunts the main character.  But whereas Judy is certainly up to the role of playing the near-operatic scenes with full intensity,  Jenkins stumbles heavily in the execution of the idea, with clumsy lyrics, overheated orchestrations, and the near-fatal inclusion of the dry-as-toast John Ireland playing the supposedly jilted lover, and the glee-club like greek chorus of The Ralph Brewster Singers turning up everywhere like a whole dollar's worth of bad pennies.  The opening swell of strings initially warned me that this album was not going to be an exercise in subtlety, but after a few tracks of Judy singing the praises of a local saloon (with the chorus intoning 'It was just an average saloon, but the food was pretty good.') followed by a scene with Judy and John snidely providing spoken quips over Charley Lavere's bar room solo, led me to gape at the wrong-headedness of it all. There are some powerful moments, to be sure, with Judy getting the chance to shine in the brassy "Worst Kind of Man" as well as the penultimate moments of "The Last Stroke of Midnight" and "Come Back", but it's not enough to redeem the near-epic lapses in judgement evident throughout.  Perhaps this kind of melodrama played better in 1959, but to these jaded ears, it sounds very much like this Letter should've been marked 'return to sender'.

Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra: Route 66 and Other Great TV Themes/More Hit TV Themes
EMI 5384132 [CD]; 
Released May 14, 2002

Nelson Riddle on Amazon.mp3
1. Route 66 Theme
2. Alvin Show Theme
3. Andy Griffith Theme
4. Theme from Ben Casey
5. My Three Sons
6. Untouchables
7. Naked City Theme
8. Sing Along
9. Defenders Theme
10. Theme from Sam Benedict
11. Three Stars Will Shine Tonight {Theme from Dr. Kildare}         
12. This Could Be the Start of Something
13. Ballad of Jed Clampett {From the Beverly Hillbillies}
14. Bonanza Theme
15. Moon River {From the Andy Williams Show}
16. Stoney Burke Theme
17. McHale's Navy March
18. Dickens and Fenster March
19. Supercar
20. Ballad of Paladin {From Have Gun Will Travel}
21. Lucy Theme
22. Bubbles in the Wine {The Laurence Welk Theme}
23. New Naked City Theme
24. Dick Van Dyke Theme

REVIEW:  With Nelson and Sinatra hitting the charts hot in the 1950s, Capitol Records allowed Riddle to go out on his own with a series of successful albums (many hitting the top 20), of which these two LP's are among the most fun.  Nelson takes twenty-four TV themes from the era and, for lack of a better word, "riddle-izes" them with his own inimitable brand of arrangements, turning the folky theme of The Andy Griffith Show and reforging it as a brass-led swinger.  He takes The Untouchables theme and creates a moody tone-poem, while Sing Along becomes a twelve-bar blues number with trembling strings and jazz guitar.  This is bachelor pad bonanaza!  The sheer amount of musical invention and fun had with the orchestra is thrilling, and miles above similar cheesy "tribute" albums which filled the record bins during the late fifities and sixties.  Nelson never devolves into self-parody, although the busy "Ballad Of Jed Clampet" seeming pulls out everything but the kitchen sink in the banjo and percussion-filled chart.  Riddle apparently loves to turn everything here on it's head, from the richly-orchestrated theme from "Bonanaza" to the swoozy, nightclub feel of "Moon River," to the tuba? lead on "The Stoney Burke Theme," and the ultra-swing found on "McHale's Navy March" (which is anything but a march.)  The crazy tilt-o-whirl arrangment on "Dickens and Fenster" is hilarious, followed by the ultra-cool spy jazz of "Supercar" and the purcussive fantasia of "Ballad of Paladin."  Nelson even tackles the "Lucy Theme" and the Lawrence Welk theme song!  This is a kitchy, fun way to spend an evening, and ample evidence of why Nelson Riddle was considered on the most versatile arrangers in the business.

Rosemary Clooney: Songs From The Girl Singer - A Musical Autobiography Concord Records 4870 [CD]; 
Released October 26, 1999

Rosemary Clooney on Amazon.mp3
   DISC 1:
  1. Sooner Or Later - (with Tony Pastor & His Orchestra)
  2. Bargain Day
  3. Peachtree Street - (with Frank Sinatra & Orchestra/George Sivaro)
  4. Beautiful Brown Eyes - (with Mitch Miller & Orchestra)
  5. Come On-A My House
  6. Tenderly - (with Percy Faith & His Orchestra)
  7. Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep
  8. Hey There
  9. You're Just In Love - (with Jose Ferrer)
  10. Sisters - (with Betty Clooney/Paul Weston & His Orchestra)
  11. Blue Rose - (with Duke Ellington & His Orchestra)
  12. On A Slow Boat To China - (with Bing Crosby)
  13. Ya Got Class - (with Bob Hope)
  14. How Will I Remember You? - (with Nelson Riddle)
   DISC 2:
  1. As Time Goes By
  2. God Bless The Child
  3. Love Is Here To Stay
  4. White Cliffs Of Dover, (There'll Be Blue Birds Over) The
  5. Straighten Up And Fly Right
  6. Do You Miss New York?
  7. Route 66
  8. Mambo Italiano
  9. Promise, The
  10. Come Rain Or Come Shine
  11. White Christmas - (with Peter Matz Orchestra)
  12. Turn Around - (with Keith Carradine)
  13. Fools Rush In - (from "Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil")
  14. Coffee Song, The - (with Cathi Campo)
  15. Secret Of Life

REVIEW:  Another strong nominee for the title of female counterpart for Frank Sinatra is Rosemary Clooney, whose longevity, style, wit, and alternately smoky, cheery voice make her a class act all the way, and this double-disc set, compiled to be a companion to her autobiography, is a fine introduction to Rosie.  Spanning her entire career, from her sultry early take on "Sooner or Later" which amply shows off her immaculate phrasing and ability to get inside a lyric.  The musical bread is similarly buttered on "Bargain Day," a slow burner, before the coin is flipped on the bouncy, infectious "Peachtree Street" (one of her many excellent duets with Frank Sinatra).  "Beautiful Brown Eyes" is a slow, country-flavored ballad, then comes her huge hit: "Come On-A My House" which has gained a reputation as a straight-out novelty number (a-la Ella's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket") but Rosie gives it a sharp, knowing reading.  The torch number "Tenderly" follows, and the Irving Berlin standard from White Christmas: "Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep."  The standard "Hey There" is next, with her wonderfully smoky delivery, followed by the slow shuffle of "You're Just In Love" (with a leaden-voiced Jose Ferrer).  A duet with sister Betty follows, "Sisters" (also from White Christmas), followed by the title track from her album collaboration with Duke Ellington, "Blue Rose" then comes a pair of comedy duets, first with Bing Crosby "Slow Boat To China" and "Ya Got Class" with Bob Hope.  These match-ups show Rosie able to let her hair down and just have fun, always staying completely professional.  The first disc closes with a Nelson Riddle arranged "How Will I Remember You?" - a terrific, lush ballad.  The second disc leads the listener into the latter part of the twentieth century, as Rosie grew into her role as a cabaret and concert singer, often accompanied by crackerjack jazz trios; her voice grew richer, and her phrasing grew even more loose and free, much like Sinatra's during his Capitol years.  Although the second disc doesn't have the classic arrangements and performances of her early years, it still shows why Rosie was able to remain undimmed as the years passed - her intelligent selection of songs, remaining true to her jazz and classic songbook roots, make her an excellent choice for those looking beyond Frank for unparalleled artistry.

Rosemary Clooney: Love
Warner Brothers 46072 [CD]; 
Released October 10, 1995

1. Invitation
2. I Wish It So
3. Yours Sincerely
4. Imagination
5. Find the Way
6. How Will I Remember You
7. Why Shouldn't I?
8. More Than You Know
9. You Started Something
10. It Never Entered My Mind
11. If I Forget You
12. Someone to Watch over Me
13. Black Coffee [*]
14. Man That Got Away [*]

REVIEW:  When Frank Sinatra started Reprise Records in 1960, he didn't simply envision it as an escape for himself as a recording artist, but for his friends as well, and he actively began to pursue other artists he admired to join his label.  Rosemary Clooney was one of the first he signed, and this album, released in 1963 when Clooney was 32 years old, the album flopped when first released, but many consider it to be her masterwork, for a couple of reasons.  First, the arrangements on the album are by Nelson Riddle, at the top of his game; and secondly, Clooney and Riddle were having a torrid love affair at the time this album was recorded, and the desperate longing and passion in Clooney's readings transform these songs (and the arrangements) into something greater than the sum of its parts.  Clooney is a mature singer now, and her phrasing and emphasises are right on the money, the ache of "Invitation" and "I Wish It So" perfectly echo the feelings of a woman bound over to an impossible attraction - and Riddle's arrangments drench the songs is luscious strings and woodwinds, creating an album-length tone-poem of romantic heartache and lonliness.  "Imagination," "How Will I Remember You," "More Than You Know," and "It Never Entered My Mind" are near-definitive readings, with Rosie filling each moment with knowing and a dreamy, etherial quality.  Or listen to Rosemary's assertiveness of "Why Shouldn't I?" as the character she takes on demands why she shouldn't show her ardour for her heart's desire.  "You Started Something" is more joyful, as the singer achieves her goal of reciprocated passion.  The CD is filled out with two bonus tracks, which deter not at all from the mood and spell woven by this immaculate album.

Count Basie: The Chairman of the Board 
Blue Note Records/Roulette Jazz [CD]; 
Released June 24, 2003

1. Blues in Hoss' Flat
2. H.R.H. (Her Royal Highness)
3. Segue in C
4. Kansas City Shout
5. Speaking of Sounds
6. TV Time
7. Who, Me?
8. Deacon
9. Half Moon Street
10. Mutt & Jeff
11. Fair and Warmer [*]
12. Moten Swing [*]

REVIEW:  Yeah, I can just see Frank and Basie duking it out in some dark alley, saying: "WHO's the Chairman?  WHO's the Chairman?!"  No, actually, I'm pretty certain that these two men, both members of the Mutual Admiration Society would've happily deferred the title to the other man, but this album, which takes the title long before Frank was dubbed the "COB" is the perfect showcase for Basie and his unique brand of Big Band bombast, with each song flying away on a potent blend of brass, percussion, and Basie's remarkably restrained, distinctive piano solos.  Originally released in 1958, this album shows why Basie remained a popular force in big band music since the 1930s; here, everthing is a tense mix of polish balanced with hot playing, as if the band is always having to restrain themselves from cutting loose, fearful of the destruction an all-out jam might cause.  From the classic "Blues in Hoss's Flat" with its inimitable big band stylings, a wailing trumpet countered by the heavier brass and woodwinds of the orchestra, while "H.R.H" is led by a terrific jazz fanfare and highlighted by the subtle chiming of Basie's playing.  "Segue In C" is a fantastic showcase for Basie's fluidic playing, carried along by a thick bass line and sublty hissing snare.  "Kansas City Shout" is fun romper, jump and jive; while the moody "Speaking Of Sounds" is taken right from dreamland with its muted colors and subtle breakouts.  "TV Time" is bachelor pad heaven, perfect for mixing cocktails in it's twelve-bar progressions; "Who Me?" is a fun slice of atmospheric crime jazz, thuggish in its muscled arrangment.  But "Deacon" is all innocence and purity with Basie delivering a deliciously chaste solo amid proper horns and mannered bass lines.  Then the band lets their hair down for the bright and busy "Half Moon Street" and finishes the album proper with the interesting jazz flute of "Mutt and Jeff."    An album of remarkable changes in mood and style, and a great introduction to the artistry of Count Basie.

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