Tuesday, March 23, 2010

41 minutes and 59 seconds of jazz!

I am one of those rare New Yorkers who actually knows his neighbors, two of which happen to be the talented musicians Perry Smith and Kathleen Smith. We are good friends, and invite each other over for dinner, cocktails, or cleaning out the fridge leftovers. I never thought that when I moved to New York I would live in such a great building of artists and musicians, just hanging out and having fun. I thought that only happened in musicals from the 1950s.

This last weekend, when the weather was so nice, we met on the roof for cocktails and appetizers. While discussing music, Perry mentioned that he had played with one of my favorite jazz vocalists, Nancy Wilson. He was kind enough to lend me the following album:

For those of you who know me, I enjoy a gem from the past just as much as I enjoy spotting the latest trend. This album was recorded in 1961, and thanks to the magical world of digital remastering, Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley sound crisp and clear. While I don't think it qualifies as cool jazz, it's smoother than be-pop, and perfect for entertaining guests or for curling up on the couch with a good book.

My favorites on the album include a jazzy version "Happy Talk" from South Pacific as well as "Sleepin' Bee" from House of Flowers for the perky tunes. For a slower pace, try "The Masquerade is Over", the kind of jazz ballad that made me fall in love with Nancy Wilson in the first place.

I am guessing that in its original release, the first side included all of the songs with vocals, while side two was reserved for all of the instrumental songs. While I am a fan of both, I suggest hitting the shuffle button to get an even mix of the two.

If you are too intimidated to buy wine for a host or hostess gift, I would suggest a copy of this album. Much like the album Getz/Gilberto this one can be plucked from a music vault and enjoyed by audiences just as much today as it was after its first vinyl pressing.

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