I0) Anita O'Day All the Sad Young Men (Verve) Rarely written about, this early 60s set features Anita's voice and Gary McFarland's orchestra separately dubbed. Even from outside the studio, O'Day proves that she can still fit herself right in with the other instruments and be their counterpoint when the rhythm and harmony demand it. McFarland's fascinating charts tap deeply into O'Day's swing past (remaking her hit "Boogie Blues") but also emote a more futuristic sound by use of minor chord endings (think Ralph Burns by way of George Russell). But in reality, the only way to get this concept is to hear it. -This album is a definite must-have, and stands to be O'Day's most creative work short of her de/reconstruction of "Tea for Two."
9) Mel Torme Encore At: Marty's (DCC jazz) The voice! Sheer perfection. The material! Top notch. You get the definitive "Lulu's Back In Town" and any number of Tor-me-isms: from the white- hot scatting to the imaginative medleys and segues. A wonderful treat from one of the very missed.
8) Blossom Dearie Give Him The Ooh-La-La (Verve) Sophisticated cabaret style singing at its finest. And her piano playing ain't bad, either,
7) Sarah Vaughan With Clifford Brown (EmArcy) Heartbreak dressed in velvet and Brownie's horn.
6) King Pleasure Sings /Annie Ross Sings (Prestige) An excellent introduction to many of jazz's finest vocalists (Betty Carter, Jon Hendricks and Dave Lambert all make appearances, as does Blossom Dearie on the famous "I'm In The Mood For Love"). Many have argued that King Pleasure was not much more than a stealer of thunder (Eddie Jefferson's to be exact), but if he did nothing else he did assemble these future `Bop School' graduates. Annie Ross' shows us "Twisted" and the seeds of...
5) Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross Everybody's Boppin' (Columbia) Vocalese told us exactly where the human voice could and couldn't go. Luckily, most of the time when these three went, it worked and man, were they gone...so far out you were left just looking at a puff of smoke. When you listen to tunes like "Everybody's Boppin" or "Cotttontail", half of the time you don't even know what just happened, but you know it was something. This is true modern voicing foundation.
4) Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane (Impulse) A truly lush version of "Lush Life" is just one of the highlights of this beautiful recording. Even with only five titles on this reissue, each song stands out as a gem. Like buttah.
3) Dinah Washington Love Songs (Verve) " Unforgettable", "Blue Gardenia" and other delights.
2) Bev Kelly in Person (Riverside) I'm going to commit true jazz heresy and include a relative unknown on the list. Something of an O'Day stepchild from the fifties, this throaty voiced singer can still hold her own and develop a standard with her own unique stamp. I just love what she does with "Then I'll Be Tired of You." Do yourself a favor and check this one out.
1) Louis Armstrong Let's Do It (Verve) When you talk about jazz singing, you just can't ignore Pop's chops. He had the inflection, he had the timing, and most important, he was the originator. Not just of modern jazz as we know it, but of the ever tricky call & response, and the melding of instrument and voice he made look and sound so easy. You hear him in the intricate stylings of L, H, & R; in Mel and Anita's seats; in Dinah Washington's hornlike vibrato. He even shows Ella a thing or two here. He is the beginning, and as we now see, the end of all things swingin'.
-- Marie Mitchell