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



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LEE WILEY

Any Time, Any Day, Anywhere

Retrospective RTR 4147

 

 

  1. Rise 'n' Shine
  2. Time on my Hands
  3. Got the South in my Soul
  4. Easy Come, Easy Go
  5. Sweet and Lowdown
  6. How Long Has This Been Going On?
  7. Someone to Watch Over Me
  8. You Took Advantage of Me
  9. A Ship Without a Sail
  10. Let's Fly Away
  11. Looking at You
  12. Down to Steamboat Tennessee
  13. Down with Love
  14. Stormy Weather
  15. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
  16. It's Only a Paper Moon
  17. Body and Soul
  18. A Woman's Intuition
  19. Sugar
  20. Any Time, Any Day, Anywhere
  21. A Ghost of a Chance
  22. Oh, Look At Me Now
  23. I've Got a Crush on You
  24. Manhattan
  25. Glad to be Unhappy

Lee Wiley never gained the fame of some other singers. You might say that she was an acquired taste: not necessarily acquired by every jazz fan. Indeed, some doubters might question if she was a jazz singer rather than a cabaret performer. Yet she sang with the likes of Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett and Joe Bushkin, and she married jazz pianist Jess Stacy. She was also a lyricist, collaborating with Victor Young and Ned Washington on Got the South in my Soul and the title-track of this album.

This collection presents "her 25 finest" recordings with all kinds of accompanists - recorded between 1932 and 1954, although regrettably the tracks are not arranged in chronological order. The first two tracks on the CD come from 1951 and she is backed by piano duettists Stan Freeman and Cy Walter. This gives listeners the first taste of her superficially simple style, with clear diction and a slightly jazzy delivery. She did not have a big voice but she interpreted songs sensitively and was particularly good with material by such composers as Harold Arlen, Rodgers & Hart and the Gershwin brothers. In fact her recordings of these standards anticipated the "songbook" series of albums which Ella Fitzgerald made later.

On some tracks, one's attention is drawn to her accompanists: for example, Bud Freeman's gliding tenor sax on How Long Has This Been Going On? and Fats Waller at the organ on Someone to Watch Over Me. Max Kaminsky's trumpet shines on three tracks (13 to 15) with an Eddie Condon group - although the recordings are fuzzy. Cornettist Bobby Hackett is better recorded on tracks 18 to 24, where Hackett supplies some enticing lyricism. The last track on the CD is the latest - from 1954 - and is billed as by Wiley with Ruby Braff leading a quartet, although Ruby seems to be absent from this track.

I wouldn't class Lee Wiley as a great singer but she's a very appealing one - and this album provides a good introduction to her work.


Tony Augarde 



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