Mississippi Belle: Cole Porter in the Quarter
1. Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love) (1928, Paris)
2. Get Out Of Town (1938, Leave It To Me)
3. Ours (1936, Red Hot And Blue)
4. Rosalie (1937, Rosalie)
5. Tale Of The Oyster (1929, Fifty Million Frenchmen)
6. Use Your Imagination (1950, Out Of This World)
7. By The Mississinewah (1943, Something For The Boys)
8. Looking At Your (1929, Wake Up And Dream)
9. From This Moment On (1953, Kiss Me Kate)
10. Mississippi Belle (1943, Mississippi Belle)
11. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (1956, High Society)
12. Where Have You Been? (1930, The New Yorkers)
13. You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To (1943, Something To Shout About)
Daryl Sherman (vocals, piano)
Jesse Boyd (bass)
Tom Fischer (clarinet, tenor sax)
Banu Gibson (vocals, tr. 7)
rec. Audiophile Studios in the French Quarter, New Orleans, 19-20 Jan, 15-16 Feb 2011
AUDIOPHILE ACD-342 [49:30]
Daryl Sherman is practically a Cole Porter expert. She sang his songs for many years at the Cocktail Terrace of the Waldorf-Astoria, playing the piano that was once Porter’s own. This recording, however, was made in the French Quarter of New Orleans. One of the advantages of this album is that it is not a standard collection of Porter favorites, so you get to know more great stuff. This man was a supreme melodist, with a gift for creating tunes that leave a mark on your brain on the first hearing, but at the same time are diverse enough, so that when you hear a new one you might ask “What? This is Cole Porter too?” The best known out of the present program is Let’s Do It, and this version is one of the fullest you’ll ever hear, with plenty of zoological nomenclature.
The natural comparison, as it always is with the ‘Great American Songbook’, would be with the recorded legacy of Ella Fitzgerald. The two ladies do it very differently, and both approaches work well. Where Fitzgerald is darker, more gritty and jazzy, Daryl Sherman’s performance is more salon-style, her voice is lighter, and the presentation is more elegant. She isn’t into scat singing or unexpected twists and puns like Ella, but she is great at word-coloring. Every note is made special. This is relaxed jazz, without strain and edge, irritation or repetition. Usually I dislike “girlish” voices, and Sherman’s is one of these, but it is quite enjoyable, even in the long run. Not only can I tolerate it in any amount, but also it draws me in and I enjoy it more every time. She’s got the technique, but what’s more important, she’s got the charm. She applies vibrato, but very purposefully and deliberately, controlling exactly where and how she wants it. Porter’s music always has a smile, and she sings with a smile. I feel closeness to the singing manner of Porter himself, from what I’ve heard of his own recordings; who knew better how to perform his songs than the composer himself?
The singing is affectionate, and the singer clearly loves these songs, but it would not have such effect if the other two musicians did not share her enthusiasm. The accompaniment is economical, and does not eclipse her but wraps the voice like a well-tailored glove. Jesse Boyd and Tom Fischer get quite long stretches in which to shine, so it is not a singer-centred album. There are also wonderful moments when they produce really jazzy feeling, with drive and bounce, yet at the same time it’s relaxed and very natural. The excellent bass is full voiced and eloquent. The clarinet is nimble, the saxophone is sensual. The piano, in the hands of the singer herself, is masterfully balanced with the rest of instruments.
The arrangements are not too adventurous, yet they are not plain either. For example, From This Moment On, one of Porter’s wonder-tunes, receives a spiky, jagged, almost Night In Tunisia-like treatment. The track You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To is accompanied only by the bass, and this is interesting and stylish. These are songs of sweet wooing and the happiness of love. Porter’s sense of humour shines forth in numbers such as By The Mississinewah, where Sherman is joined by special guest Banu Gibson. The only reason why the sensual Mississippi Belle did not enter the list of jazz standards is because the movie for which it was written was never released. This is its first recording. The rest of the songs come from Broadway shows.
I can’t find anything negative to say about this charming album, except that I wish it had been a double disc with more Cole Porter, in and out of the Quarter, performed by this excellent group. 

Oleg Ledeniov 

Affectionate singing … Sherman clearly loves these songs.