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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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LENA HORNE

Four Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1009

 

 


CD1
Stormy Weather
1. Tomorrow Mountain
2. Out of this World
3. Summertime
4. Mad About the Boy
5. Ridin' on the Moon
6. Stormy Weather
7. Baby, Won't You Please Come Home
8. Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home
9. I'll Be Around
10. I Wonder What Became of Me
11. Just One of Those Things
Lena Horne at the Cocoanut Grove
12. The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
13. Wouldn't It Be Loverly
14. A Cock-Eyed Optimist
15. I Have Dreamed
Give the Lady Wjat She Wants
16. Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
17. People Will Say We're in Love
18. Just in Time
19. Honey in the Honeycomb
20. You Better Know It
21. Get Out of Town
22. Baubles, Bangles and Beads
23. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
24. At Long Last Love
25. Speak Low
26. Love
27. Let's Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep

CD2
Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria
1. Announcement, introduction and play-on
2. Today I Love Everybody
3. Let Me Love You
4. Come Runnin'
5. Cole Porter Medley: How's Your Romance?/After You, Who?/Love of My Life/It's All Right with Me
6. How About You? (Orchestral link)
7. Duke Ellington Medley: Mood Indigo/I'm Beginning to See the Light
8. How You Say It
9. Orchestral link
10. Honeysuckle Rose
11. Day In - Day Out
12. Orchestral link
13. A New Fangled Tango
14. Orchestral link
15. I Love to Love
16. Orchestral link
17. From This Moment On
18. Orchestral play-off
A Friend of Yours
18. You Don't Have to Know the Language
20. Like Someone in Love
21. It's Anybody's Spring
22. But Beautiful
23. Just My Luck
24. Get Rid of Monday
25. A Friend of Yours
26. It Could Happen to You
27. Sleigh Ride in July
28. My Heart is a Hobo
29. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
30. Ring the Bell

 

Was Lena Horne a jazz singer, a cabaret singer or what? She is omitted from The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz but she is listed in some other jazz encyclopedias. One of them describes her lucidly when it says: "Although considered by many as a popular singer, [she] has been closely associated with many jazz artists and her work is strongly informed by jazz". She sang at the Cotton Club and then with the bands of Noble Sissle and Charlie Barnet. She also recorded with such bandleaders as Teddy Wilson, Artie Shaw and Cab Calloway. The repertoire on this double album contains many jazz standards, including tunes by Duke Ellington and Fats Waller. And beside the fact that she always sings clearly in tune, the inflections in her vocals are those of a jazz singer, so I have no hesitation in listing her among the significant jazz vocalists of the 20th century.

Of course, she made her name not only recording albums like these but also appearing in films and on stage. Her cabaret style is exemplified in the album called Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria, which contains one of her most popular numbers: the suggestive New Fangled Tango. But her jazz credentials are clear in Honeysuckle Rose and in the Duke Ellington medley, in both of which she is accompanied simply by a rhythm section. However, her vocals are in danger of being submerged by the big band on other items in this 1957 concert.

The orchestras are less overbearing on the remaining tracks, which come from studio recordings - apparently even the four tracks from the EP Lena Horne at the Cocoanut Grove, which has no trace of an audience. On this disc, Lena delivers The Surrey with the Fringe on Top almost conversationally, and her phrasing of Wouldn't It Be Loverly is decidedly jazzy.

Of course, this compilation has to include Lena's trademark song, Stormy Weather, which she sang memorably in the 1943 film of the same name. This is one of many tunes on this compilation written by Harold Arlen (collaborating with Johnny Mercer), a composer who Lena probably first encountered at the Cotton Club and whose songs she clearly appreciated.

Horne also liked the compositions of Johnny Burke & Jimmy Van Heusen, whose songs occupy the final LP in this collection - A Friend of Yours. Highlights from this LP include the sensitive Like Someone in Love and several little-known songs such as Just My Luck, Get Rid of Monday and My Heart is a Hobo.

As with all these Avid reissues, the price is unbelievably low and the helpings are generous, although the digitally remastered sound is occasionally rather fuzzy.

Tony Augarde



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