Jazz 100
Vocal Jazz 2
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Songs for Swingin' Lovers
Frank Sinatra
1956 [Capitol]


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By the mid-50s Sinatra had well-and-truly resurrected his career, this time around consciously making a hard-swinging dance album. Nelson Riddle shows he can arrange the up-tempo stuff just as effectively the string-laden ballads on the previous album. It's not really jazz, but the album certainly showcases Sinatra at his swinging best.





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...Sings the Cole Porter Songbook
Ella Fitzgerald
1956 [Verve] 2CDs


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This smash-hit was the first in Ella's songbook series recorded for Norman Granz's Verve label. All entries in the series are uniformly superb, with Fitzgerald at the peak of her vocal powers displaying an innate understanding of the material. Casual listeners, however, may want to start with the single-CD 'Best of' before digging deeper.





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Lady in Satin
Billie Holiday
1958 [Columbia]


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Nearing the end, her voice cracking... this tormented classic may not be the best way to remember this fine vocalist. Ray Ellis' string arrangements try to make things sound a little breezier, but the real story hits like a ton of bricks throughout Lady Day's tortured vocal delivery. Emotionally riveting, despite its musical flaws.





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Little Girl Blue
Nina Simone
1958 [Bethlehem]


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Nina Simone was such a good jazz vocalist that many forget that she was also an exceptionally talented pianist. Unfortunately, she sold the rights to this record for only $3,000, leaving the record company to make a veritable mint. The album's title says it all - the mood is blue, even when drifting into charmingly up-tempo territory. Outstanding.





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Everybody's Boppin'
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
1961 [Columbia]


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Great introductory set to the highly influential 'vocalese' trio. Vocalese is the art of setting established instrumental jazz solos to lyrics and singing them. Jon Hendricks is still recognised as the greatest ever vocalese lyricist. Worth it for the remake of Annie Ross' 'Twisted' alone - the CD release includes some superb bonus tracks.





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John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman
1963 [Impulse!]


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Hartmanís fine voice hadnít seen action since 1956 when this balladeering surprise package came out. Dental problems saw Coltraneís tenor sticking to brilliant basics with astounding results. The only down side here is the short 31-minute playing time. Hartmanís 'I Just Dropped By to Say Hello' from the same year is also terrific.





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The Best of the Song Books
Ella Fitzgerald
1956-64 [Verve]


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Ella's famous songbook series for Norman Granz's Verve label made her a household name. The Cole Porter set that launched the series almost single-handedly kept Verve afloat for several years - with noted follow-ups covering material from Rodgers & Hart, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington and Irving Berlin. Hard to go past this one.





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Reprise Studio Recordings
Frank Sinatra and Count Basie
1962 & 1964 [Warner Reprise]


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The majority of Sinatra's work is not generally regarded as jazz, but partnered with Count Basie, the Reprise studio recordings come close. The two original albums - An Historical Musical First and It Might as Well be Swing - are available together as The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings. The Sinatra at the Sands (1966) live set is also very good.


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