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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

Stormy Weather -
A Tribute Her 26 Finest
1936-1959

RETROSPECTIVE RTR 4170

 

 

  1. Stormy Weather
  2. That's What Love Did To Me
  3. Good-For-Nothin Joe
  4. You're My Thrill
  5. The St. Louis Blues
  6. Careless Love
  7. Aunt Hagar's Blues
  8. Beale Street Blues
  9. Don't Take Your Love From Me
  10. Out of Nowhere
  11. Prisoner of Love
  12. What Is This Thing Called Love?
  13. Ill Wind
  14. Mad About The Boy
  15. Moanin' Low
  16. Where or When
  17. One For My Baby And One More For The Road
  18. As Long As I Live
  19. How Long Has This Been Going On?
  20. Love Me Or Leave Me
  21. Wouldn't It Be Loverly?
  22. That Old Feeling
  23. It Ain't Necessarily So
  24. Come Runnin'
  25. From This Moment On
  26. A New-Fangled Tango
Lena Horne, with various accompaniments, recorded 1936-59 [77:42]

 

Lena Horne died in May 2010 and this retrospective catches just over two decades of her career, taking one up to 1959. She was successively chorus girl, recording artist, film actress, glamorous pin-up, and much later purveyor of a one-woman Broadway show, `The Lady and her Music'. Never claiming to be a jazz singer, she nevertheless surrounded herself with some high class exponents. In this disc she moves between the bands of Noble Sissle - which boasted (here inaudible) Sidney Bechet amongst its ranks but was otherwise merely competent - Charlie Barnet, Hot Lips Levine, Artie Shaw, Teddy Wilson, Horace Henderson, and Lennie Hayton, whom she married.

One of the songs most associated with her is Stormy Weather which she recorded with Lou Bring and his orchestra. Her fragrant portamento style is perfect for it, albeit she is saddled with a somewhat self-conscious band. Still, it was quite advanced for them to do Coward's Mad About The Boy during which someone plays a bass clarinet. With Levine and his serio-comically named Dixieland Jazz Group of NBC's Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street she sings four WC Handy blues (June 1941). This wasn't at all her forte, but we have a relaxed, rather generic St. Louis Blues which at least us hear trumpeter Levine (British born) and trombonist Jack Epstein in gutsy form. This was a band in which Bechet was also a member but I can't hear a thing from him throughout any of these sides.

Shaw had a very romantic string section on board for his single contribution - twelve of them in fact alongside such heroes as Red Allen, JC Higginbotham and Benny Carter in the front line on Don't Take Your Love From Me - though actual jazz interest is minimal. Some of the most interesting sides are small groups, first with pianist Phil Moore and then with just Mundell Lowe, George Duvivier and Louis Bellson. There's more space for Horne in these numbers and the last named group in particular, playing Love Me Or Leave Me swings tightly. A stellar team of West Coasters are on hand for Lerner and Lowe's Wouldn't It Be Loverly? during which she just about gets through the `abso-bloomin-lutely' line. Hayton certainly did know how to arrange for Horne, as his selection shows, from Gershwin to Cole Porter to Roc Hillman's Come Runnin'

Versatile and engaging, these sides, uneven through some may be, run the gamut of her studio engagements, giving something for everyone.

Jonathan Woolf



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