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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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JO STAFFORD
Make Love to Me
Retrospective RTS 4112

 

 



 
 
CD1
1. Blues in the Night
2. Manhattan Serenade
3. i Remember You
4. It Could Happen to You
5. Long Ago and Far Away
6. I Love You
7. Tumbling Tumbleweeds
8. Let's Take the Long Way Home
9. There's No You
10. That's For Me
11. Symphony
12. Day by Day
13. The Boy Next Door
14. Walkin' My Baby Back Home
15. Over the Rainbow
16. Georgia on my Mind
17. I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time
18. September Song
19. Ivy
20. Temptation ("Tim-Tay-Shun")
21. Almost Like Being in Love
22. Smoke Dreams
23. I'm So Right Tonight
24. Feudin' and Fightin'
25. Serenade of the Bells
26. He's Gone Away
CD2
1. In the Still of the Night
2. Haunted Heart
3. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
4. Make Believe
5. If I Loved You
6. My Darling, My Darling
7. Always True to You in my Fashion
8. Some Enchanted Evening
9. Whispering Hope
10. Ragtime Cowboy Joe
11. Scarlet Ribbons
12. Play a Simple Meldoy
13. Pagan Love Song
14. No Other Love
15. The Old Rugged Cross
16. Goodnight, Irene
17. Autumn Leaves
18. If
19. La Vie en Rose
20. The Tennessee Waltz
21. Shrimp Boats
22. Allentown Jail
23. Hawaiian War Chant
24. You Belong to Me
25. Hey, Good Lookin'!
26. Jambalaya, On the Bayou
27. Keep It a Secret
28. Make Love to Me!
 
 
 

This is one of a series of CDs on a new label, Retrospective, from Wyastone Estate Ltd., the company most renowned for the Nimbus label. Retrospective will try to do for popular and jazz artists what Prima Voce has done for opera singers - making available classic recordings from the past.

The aim is certainly achieved with this double CD, which offers more than two-and-a-half hours of music from one of the greatest American singers. Jo Stafford has always been famous as a vocalist who could sing perfectly in tune - as she parodied in her memorable series of recordings by the inept "Jonathan & Darlene Edwards". The role of Jonathan, the excruciating pianist on those discs, was taken by Jo's husband, Paul Weston, whose orchestra accompanies her very competently on many of these 54 tracks. Because Stafford was a "popular" vocalist rather than a jazz singer, many of these backings are rather soupy and sentimental, often with a string section in evidence.

But like many singers of the period, Jo Stafford first came to public notice with a big band - that of Tommy Dorsey - as part of vocal group the Pied Pipers. The first two tracks on this collection, both from 1942, have Jo accompanied by Dorsey's orchestra. Perhaps she wasn't an out-and-out jazz singer but much of her phrasing betrays a jazz sensibility. For instance, in Blues in the Night, she subtly departs from the strict melody when it seems all right to be adventurous. And hear how she plays about with the timing of Long Ago and Far Away - anticipating or holding back slightly.

In fact I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time was recorded with the jazzy Nat King Cole Trio plus trumpeter Ray Linn and tenorist Herbie Haymer, hinting at Jo's jazz potential. It's a shame that this collection omits the even jazzier other side of this 1946 recording: Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?

This compilation follows Jo Stafford up to 1953 (although she only retired in the 1960s) and it includes such hits as the The Tennessee Waltz, Shrimp Boats, Jambalaya and You Belong to Me. But it also reminds us what a superb singer she was, sensitively interpreting great compositions by Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Harold Arlen. Her interpretation of Arlen's Over the Rainbow effortlessly challenges Judy Garland's version. And, as the Darlene Edwards recordings showed, she could play the fool - as she did with Red Ingle and his Natural Seven, performing a cod-country account of Temptation under the pseudonym of "Cinderella G. Stump".

However, Jo Stafford will probably be best remembered as an interpreter of gentle ballads, like That's For Me, Make Believe and Allentown Jail. This is the kind of album that makes you smile quite often: both at the beauty of the songs and at the honest rightness of Jo Stafford's vocals.

 
Tony Augarde

see also review by Bob Briggs

 

 

 

 



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