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mikeweil

BFT 93 revealed

19 posts in this topic

IIRC this is the first time an Organissimo Blindfold Test was compiled entirely with vocals. As always, the results were surprising - all I tried was to select some singers that I like or find interesting and/or think have been overlooked or are underrated, and represent different stylistics. Besides vocalists there is a number of excellent bass players and other instrumentalists ...

Disc one:

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1. Nnenna Freelon: Girl Blue (Stevie Wonder) - from CD Heritage (Columbia, 1993)

Nnenna Freelon vocals; Kenny Barron piano; Christian McBride bass; Lewis Nash drums; Dave Tofani tenor sax; Jim Pugh trombone. Arrangement by Bob Freedman

http://nnenna.com/

I hardly see Miss Freelon discussed on the board. IMHO she is one of the best and most consistent singers on the scene. I first heard her on a T.S. Monk big band tribute to Thelonious sr. where she sang "In Walked Bud" alongside Diane Reeves (a singer I never quite warmed up to), and found she blew Reeves out of the studio - where Reeves scatted stock phrases, Freelon took chances, was sassy, sexy and right up front. She has sensuality, chops, communicates well with her band, is aware of the jazz tradition - in other words she has everything a jazz singer should have. I sought out her first three CDs on Columbia after that, which were already out of print, and was not disappointed - "Heritage" was her second, not her debut as I mistakenly wrote, but it is correct that she was 38 at the time of her first album. Her subsequent CDs are on Concord, and just as good. No fans of Nnenna on the board?

Kenny Barron plays an excellent solo on this one!

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2. Simona Bencini & L.M.G. Quartet: You Don't Know What Love Is - from CD Spreading Love (Groove Master Edition, 2011)

Somona Bencini vocals; Mario Rosini keyboards; Giuseppe Bassi bass; Mimmo Campanale drums; Gaetano Partipilo alto sax. Arrangement by the band.

http://www.simonabencini.com/

One of my all time favourite singers is Italian Gegè Telesforo (see track 6), who started his own label a few years ago after frustrating experiences with record companies. The last time I checked into their website I noticed he promoted a new singer - I checked out some YouTube videos of Simona and her band and was blown away! I love new treatments of well known standards, and the groove they hit between jazz, fusion and Brazilian. I agree she tends to force a bit, but on the live videos she is a bit more relaxed and the groove the quartet hits is even more intensive: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=GhX9xt_wQiI

The band's name, BTW means "Last Minute Gig" ... that bass player with the name of Bassi is a gas!

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3. Kevin Mahogany: Free (Mahogany) - from CD Another Time Another Place (Warner Bros., 1997)

Kevin Mahogany vocals; Joe Lovano tenor sax; Cyrus Chestnut piano; Dave Stryker guitar; Ben Wolfe bass; Clarence Penn drums.

http://www.kevinmahogany.com/

I loved Mahogany's voice from the first time I heard him, warm, swinging, engaging. I saw him live in a local club, he was a charming, unpretentious stage persona communicating well with his band. I think he is one of the best around, period. Lovano plays very well here, too. A heartfelt song about children ... Again, no Mahogany fans on the board?

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4. Norma Winstone: A Timeless Place (Jimmy Rowles, lyrics by Winstone) - from CD Well Kept Secret (Koch Jazz, 1995; reissued on Enodoc Records)

Norma Winstone vocals; Jimmy Rowles piano; George Mraz bass; Joe La Barbera drums.

When Winstone asked Rowles for permission to write lyrics to "The Peacocks", he asked her who she was going to record it with, and she spontaneously said "You?" - he accepted, it was one of his last sessions, in already fragile health. If you want Winstone's take on a classic song oriented jazz album with standards, here it is - again I wonder why this was not mentioned more often. I got a copy as soon as it was out. I had always wondered how she would sound in such a context - she handles it marvellously ... and I wonder why nobody recognized her distinctive voice.

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5. Jerry Granelli: I Could See Forever (Denny Goodhew) - from CD Koputai (ITM Pacific, 1988)

Jay Clayton vocals; Denny Goodhew alto sax; Julian Priester trombone; Robben Ford guitar; Charlie Haden bass; Jerry Granelli drums, electronics.

Granelli's drumming is not quite my taste, but he conducted an admirable series of jam session type recording sessions with fellow Seattle residents and other friends in the late 1980's for the ITM label, of which this was the first, selecting great sidemen who brought along interesting tunes. I bet nobody would have expected Ford in such a context. Ralph Towner plays great synth on other tracks. Priester is nice here, as well as saxist Goodhew, who wrote the tune and lyrics. Jay Clayton is another underrated singer.

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6. Gegè Telesforo: Small Blues (Telesforo) - from CD So Cool (Groove Master Edition, 2010)

Gegè Telesforo vocals; Max Ionata tenor sax; Alfonso Deidda piano; Dario Deidda bass; Amadeo Ariano drums;

http://www.gegetelesforo.com/

Gegè Telesforo is my favourite European male singer, as a scat singer he is clearly out of the Jon Hendricks bag. I had included a version with only bass (also Dario Deidda) on one of my previous BFTs. This latest CD is nothing speactacular, just nice entertaining music. Well, I'm a scat nut ...

Edited by mikeweil

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I just gave it one more listen. :rolleyes: But I didn't get any.

I should have known the Kevin Mahogany one since I have this disc. I guess I haven't listen to it enough.

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Disc 1, tracks 7 -12:

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7. Ethel Ennis: For Free (Joni Mitchell) - from CD If Women Ruled The World (Savoy Jazz, 1998)

Ethel Ennis vocals; Jane Ira Bloom soprano sax; Drew Gress bass; Dennis Chambers drums.

Ennis, born in 1932, is another underrecorded survivor - I have no idea whether she is still active her last album, a live recording made in her hometown, Baltimore, was issued in 2005. This album is all women's songs, something that is still rare. Jane Ira Bloom, my favourite soprano player, shows fine empathy in her obligatos and solo. Drew Gress sounds like a four-handed bassist. And I never would have thought Dennis Chambers would be able to play brushes like this ...

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8. Daniela D'Ercole: Caravan - from CD The Peacocks (yvp music, 2008)

Daniela D'Ercole vocals; Ettore Cartucci piano; Giuseppe Bassi bass; Marcello Nisi drums; Jed Levy tenor sax.

http://www.danieladercole.com

The news of this young and talented singer being killed in a car crash in New York only a few months ago was enough reason to include her in this BFT, but she was real good - it's a tragedy her career was cut short. She too has a fine instinct for new arrangement ideas, like the ultra slow beginning of Caravan here. There is a flawless rendition of Winstone's lyrics for "The Peacocks" on this CD, too - she had good taste and timing, and the energy to make it in New York ....

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9. Bill Henderson: Blues In The Night - from CD Something's Gotta Give (Discovery, 1981 - CD 1986)

Bill Henderson vocals; Dave MacKay Fender Rhodes piano.

I loved Bill Henderson's voice from the first time I heard him - which was Horace Silver's "Senor Blues". He, like Lou Rawls, could have been the ideal hard bop singer, but he opted for an acting career besides singing. His records are rare, and that makes them even better. This CD combines two LPs he made for Discovery in 1979 and 1981 (the cover pic) and may be hard to find. His intensity on this, a favourite tune of mine, is great. He knows what he's talking about ....

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10. Annabelle Wilson: The Voyage (poem by Bill Manhire) - from CD On Music (ITM Pacific, 1990)

Annabelle Wilson vocals; Jane Ira Bloom soprano sax, live electronics; Jerry Granelli drums.

Wilson sat in on one of Granelli's sessions mentioned above, which resulted in what was basically a duet CD with Glen Moore (also on ITM). This lead to her only CD to date, consisting of some kind of sung poetry to spontaneous collective improvisations inspired by the lyrics - a unique approach. Another good excuse to include this was my # 1 soprano, Jane Ira Bloom.

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11. Gino Sitson: Way To Go (Sitson) - from CD Way To Go (alessa records, 2008)

Gino Sitson vocals, percussion; Helio Alves piano; Lonnie Plaxico bass; Willard Dyson drums.

Our local jazz agent, Peter Schillbach, brought Sitson over for a European tour. When he mailed an announcement for the gig here in town, I listened to a sample, and ordered tickets - my wife liked him, too. Sitson is from Cameroon and sings many songs in his native language, Medumba, like the one I selected. The rhythm is juggling but natural - he brought this band for the tour, and they were great. His singing is clearly inspired by Bobby McFerrin on other tunes, but he is his own man. He now lives in New York - go check him out when he performs there and buy his CD!

http://www.ginositson.com/

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12. Daniela D'Ercole: I'll Close My Eyes - from CD The Peacocks (yvp music, 2008)

Daniela D'Ercole vocals; Ettore Cartucci piano; Giuseppe Bassi bass; Marcello Nisi drums; Jed Levy tenor sax.

http://www.danieladercole.com

I had to end the first disc with that track, as this talented singer sadly closed her eyes forever ...

Edited by mikeweil

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Daniela D'Ercole, what a beautiful voice. It's very tragic how she died recently. She differently had a lot of uncapped talent.

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Ha, I had that Ethel Ennis disc open thinking the Joni song might be from there! Is the whole album as good as that one?

So that's Mahoganny and Joe Lovano then... good sax solo indeed!

Also same question about the Winstone: whole disc as good? That's the most interesting one to me, I think!

Bill Henderson, too! Did think of him, but as I only recently got the two Vee Jay discs (aren't they great?!) I didn't dare mentioning him...

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Yes, they're all good all the way through.

Ennis has rather spare accompaniment, with Marc Copland playing piano on most tracks.

The Winstone is, like I said, a beautiful standards disc in a low key mode - Rowles is not on all tracks, due to his state of health at the time. Mraz had the flu - he and Rowles had to wear masks during the session as Rowles' doctor was afraid he'd catch the cold and not survive it ... but you wouldn't notice.

You got the two Henderson Vee Jays? We're in for a trade ...

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Hey, and after all I *did* recognize/guess Winstone... too late, but still before having seen your reveals here!

Managed to find used copies of the Hendersons last year... two slightly different editions, but never mind, it's all there and they're tons of fun!

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Hey, and after all I *did* recognize/guess Winstone... too late, but still before having seen your reveals here!

I believe ya ... :cool:

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Hey, and after all I *did* recognize/guess Winstone... too late, but still before having seen your reveals here!

I believe ya ... :cool:

Well, I was busy doing my second listen and typing my replies for the second time while you were busy typing up the reveals... not too familiar with Winstone yet, but what I've heard is quite a bit to my liking!

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After all those years (decades, actuallly) of being a record and CD hound, I don't recall ever coming across this Bill Henderson album. Perhaps I just glossed over it. Anyway, I have plenty of his other recordings- the Vee Jays, the album with Oscar P and another on Verve, and the bonus tracks on Jimmy Smith's "Softly As A Summer Breeze". I guess his unusual voice makes him a bit of an acquired taste for some, but I've always enjoyed his work.

In general, Mike, I think my taste in vocalists tends to be more "old school". I'm familiar with a number of the names you selected... Freelon, Mahogany, Winstone... but don't own any of their stuff, and for some reason I have not been so tempted to buy recordings of vocalists from the more modern era. Many of them I'm able to hear on our local jazz radio station, which is why I do know them to some degree.

I did have something by Ethel Ennis at some point, but I think I let go of it during one of my purges (I knew I'd heard that Joni Mitchell song somewhere before, by the way).

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Disc 2

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1. Kenny Dorham: Chicago Blues - from CD Kenny Dorham Quintet (OJC/Debut, recorded 1953, CD released with bonus material in 1993)

Kenny Dorham vocals, trumpet; Jimmy Heath tenor sax; Walter Bishop jr. piano; Percy Heath bass; Kenny Clarke drums.

Dorham had one vocal feature tune each night with the Billy Eckstine orchestra, but it was believed his Riverside LP, "This Is The Moment" was his first vocal recording. This and another vocal track were unearthed when they searched the tape vaults for a newly remastered CD reissue of his first album, which was a ten incher first with six tracks, had two alternates added for the twelve inch version and first OJC CD issue, and now has a total of 11 tracks including those two vocals. Watch out to get the most complete edition, every take is worth it. Personnel is not absolutely certain on those two vocals track, but it clearly is Jimmy Heath and Kenny Clarke. I wish there was more - the Riverside is nice, but here he is very loose and in good humourous spirits, which I like immensely. This is the most often played track from this CD in my home!

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2. Mary Stallings: Mr. Blues - from CD Cal Tjader Plays - Mary Stallings Sings (Fantasy/OJC, recorded 1961, CD released 2005)

Mary Stallings vocals; Lonnie Hewitt piano; Victor Venegas bass; Johnny Rae drums.

(The personnel credits are not quite correct on this CD reissue: Tjader is absent on the last session from which this track is taken, and Clare Fischer does not play electric piano - it is a celeste and Hewitt plays it, as the LP liner notes say, Fischer plays the piano and wrote the arrangements on the first session. The regular Tjader quartet of the time is on the middle session.) This was Tjader's last project for Fantasy before his tenure with Verve, Stallings was 22 years old, and it was her first recording - hard to believe. She sounds fully mature. If you like her voice, you will like the whole album. Another underrecorded singer ...

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3. Lou Rawls: Fine And Mellow (Billie Holiday) - from CD The Best of Lou Rawls - The Capitol Jazz & Blues Sessions (Capitol, released 2006)

Lou Rawls vocals; Curtis Amy tenor sax; Dupree Bolton trumpet; Ray Crawford guitar; Phil Moore piano; Henry Franklin bass; Doug Sides drums. Recorded 1963.

Only three tracks were recorded at this session, which would have become one epitome of a West Coast Hard Bop vocal album, had it been completed - but it went onto the shelves. Capitol was too busy marketing Rawls as a popular singer ... This compilation is worth getting for these three rare tracks, and is a nice cross section of the sessions arranged by Benny Carter and the like. Six of the tracks duplicate material from four other CDs - that's tolerable.

What is there to say about Lou Rawls and this session? Great stuff, a missed opportunity, for sure.

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4. Giorgia T.: You Don't Know What Love is - from CD Natural Woman (GoJazz, 1993)

Giorgia Todrani vocals; Marco Rinalduzzi guitar; Massimo Calabrese bass; Alberto Bartoli drums.

http://giorgia.net/

Giorgia started out in Italian R & B bands, singing Aretha Franklin's and other classic soul tunes every night - she still does it during major portions of her performances, although she mutated into one of Italy's most popular songstresses. Do a search on YouTube and you will get the idea - she's a superstar in Italy. This CD was recorded on Gegè's and Ben Sidran's initiative at the beginning of her career, after she had guested on a track of Gegè's Boparazzi CD (a track from this, a vocal "Sidewinder" with Jon Hendricks, was on one of my previous BFT's). After watching several of her video clips with soul tunes I think she sings that stuff better there than on this CD - she's got soul and hasn't lost it in spite of the romantic hits she had. And she did this long before there was a trace of a certain British singer ... here are two samples:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=sirvTUo6lgs

http://youtu.be/ct9ZM9sJxvo or http://youtu.be/S53wZtBjHF8 (the sound quality is lousy on this one , but look who's at the piano ....)

... and a glamorous version of The Man I Love

http://youtu.be/DYcrFnj5m_o

- you don't have to listen, just look at this beautiful singer. I wish there were pop singers as versatile in Germany singing jazz and soul with as much conviction ... and looking as good.

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5. Dominique Eade: Come Down In Time (Elton John & Bernie Taupin) - from CD The Long Way Home (RCA Victor, 1999)

Dominique Eade vocals; Mick Goodrick guitar; Dave Holland bass; Cyro Baptista percussion.

http://www.dominiqueeade.com/

After two CDs on the small Premonition label (I'm still looking for the first one) Eade did two very nice albums for RCA, a June Christy / Chris Connor tribute and this one - she has a nice darker tinged voice, which I prefer, and very good taste in sidemen. My only complaint is that she has so much chops that she tends to take tunes too fast and virtuosic. But I like that color ... She teaches at New England Conservatory so she does not have to worry about the next gig.

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6. Kevin Mahogany: Big Rub (Mahogany) - from CD Another Time Another Place (Warner Bros., 1997)

Kevin Mahogany vocals; Joe Lovano tenor sax; Cyrus Chestnut piano; Dave Stryker guitar; Ben Wolfe bass; Clarence Penn drums.

http://www.kevinmahogany.com/

Now here's the scat side of Mahogany, clearly out of Dave Lambert, which I dig a lot. Not innovative, but deeply rooted in the scat tradition based on tenor sax cutting contests. Lovano has another great solo.

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7. Cyrus Chestnut: Summertime - from CD Cyrus Chestnut (Atlantic, 1998)

Anita Baker vocals; Cyrus Chestnut piano & keyboard; Ron Carter bass; Lewis Nash drums.

http://www.anitabaker.com/

Maybe this was done after Baker wanted to terminate her contract with the Warner etc. label group - she was to record an album for Atlantic but defective equipment rendered all the pre-recorded tracks unusable, and, being the perfectionist she is, that was it for her. Two guest appearances on Chestnut's CD are all she did for the label. The next two were on Blue Note, a new one is due next year.

Someone on this board said he always saw Anita Baker as the natural successor to Sarah Vaughan - I share this opinion. To me she is one of the greatest vocalists of our time - if she only would do a "pure" jazz album ... tracks like this are a glimpse of what she would do. Besides that, I just love that dark hue of her voice. There's great take on "You've Changed" on her live DVD with just piano that's another example of what we're deprived of ...

Edited by mikeweil

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Disc 2, tracks 8 - 14

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8. Carla White: Summertime - from LP Orient Express (Milestone, 1986)

Carla White vocals, live effects; Peter Madsen piano; Ed Howard bass; Tim Horner drums.

I love this version, loose and raw, just as much as Anita Baker's sophisticated piece of art. Carla was one of my favourites - I miss her very much. Sadly her website is gone but I hope to make its contents available again when I put her discography online next year. Her voice has something very moving to me, full of life experience, ups and downs, uncensored ... and she was a great scat singer as she had studied with Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh. This is a needle drop - her first two albums never were reissued on CD.

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9. King & Moore: Sermonette (Nat Adderley) - from CD Cliff Dance (Justice, 1993)

Nancy King vocals; Glen Moore bass.

http://www.jazzvox.com/nancyking/

King & Moore were a regular duet for several years, they made three CDs for Justice. King is one more Tristano/Marsh student with great scatting chops (Judy Niemack is another). This is short and to the point. Their duets display a great mix of fun and down home stylistics.

10. Simona Bencini: Sabato Notte - from

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=WQpN8sXMy0E

I have no idea where this originated nor who is playing in this swinging big band - I stepped over this when I checked YouTube for Bencini videos. Here she sounds like a full-fledged experienced big band singer. Totally different from the funky treatment on Disc 1, track 2. Like Giorgia, she has a pop career in the making as well:

http://youtu.be/bIyfKuCSr-s

This tune, btw, Sabato Notte (Saturday Night) is a 1950's Italian pop hit by a singer named Mina Mazzini - check this for the original, a fine example of how easily Italians always merged pop and jazz - Mina was barely 20 when she recorded this:

http://youtu.be/g2IG4GY52jk

or this: http://youtu.be/Uiw_XB72Sxg

There's much more - fun stuff to watch ... welcome to the world of Italian pop and jazz singers!

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11. Carla White: It's Kind of Lonesome Out Tonight (Duke Ellington / Don George) - from CD A Voice In The Night (Bright Moon Records, 2001)

Carla White vocals; Claudio Roditi trumpet; John Hart guitar; Dean Johnson bass; Matt Wilson drums.

From Saturday night to lonesome night - a very nice but rarely heard Ellington tune. This was Carla's last album. It was recorded September 8 & 9, 2011 ..... she already had taken five years before she found a label for her next to last CD, to realease this one she finally founded her own label and released it in 2005 - two years later she died of cancer. By this album's sessions she had found a more relaxed voice, with a lighter touch, and finally merged the two extremes of her repertoire, scat and balladry. She handpicked her sidemen on all of her albums, especially Roditi is beautiful here. Meanwhile all her albums are hard to find ...

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12. Anita Baker: Frosty's Rag - from CD Christmas Fantasy (Blue Note, 2005)

Anita Baker vocals; George Duke piano; Larry Carlton guitar; Nathan East bass; Ricky Lawson drums; Gene Lobianco clarinet.

http://www.anitabaker.com/

On to Christmas night ... Now this is a kind of track nobody would expect Anita Baker to do - but she's a complete vocalist. This is my favourite Christmas CD this year, and, ironically, Baker's jazziest effort to date. She sings like a horn player on this CD, but with an endless array of vocal colours, like several instruments in one. Great ....

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13. Ray Brown: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - from CD Christmas Songs with the Ray Brown Trio (Telarc, 1999)

Diana Krall vocals; Geoffrey Keezer piano; Ray Brown bass; Gregory Hutchinson drums.

I know Krall is a controversial figure for many here, but let's face it, she can sing, she swings, she knows what she's doin' - it isn't her fault she has success, because she is not selling out. She is a solid mainstream jazz singer and plays more than average jazz piano. Her Christmas CD is a solid effort. I like to listen to her ...

14. Ray Brown: The Christmas Rap (Hutchinson) - from CD Christmas Songs with the Ray Brown Trio (Telarc, 1999)

Geoffrey Keezer piano; Ray Brown bass; Gregory Hutchinson drums & rap.

You get the message? Another great jazz Christmas CD, with seven different guest vocalist, my man Keezer on piano, Ray Brown layin' down funky grooves, and this funny closer.

Merry Christmas, and Groove y'all! :g Thanks for listening!

Edited by mikeweil

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... Bill Henderson ... the album with Oscar P and another on Verve, ...

Which is the other Verve Bill Henderson LP, please? I only have

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Kudos to Mike for some good choices. I almost wish I'd jumped in on this one as there are a number I am pretty sure I would have recognized, and a much higher than usual number of discs I actually own.

BTW anyone who liked the Stallings cut is directed to her Concord releases. Both are worthwile but I lean toward the one with the Gene Harris quartet, natch.

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Thanks for the BFT! Sorry I couldn't contribute anything to the guessing thread. It was an interesting listen, and I'm going to have to look into Bill Henderson a little more. I only have his album with Oscar Peterson and some VeeJays, too.

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Maybe I should open a thread on Bill Henderson ... the CD I selected a track from combines, as I said, two Discovery LPs, one of which was dedicated to Johnny Mercer's songs - there are used copies on Amazon.

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Thanks to Mike Weil for this BFT. I definitely enjoyed a number of the selections and really wouldn't have had a hope of guessing. The only singer I recognized was Lou Rawls. Cool to hear Kenny Dorham sing. :cool:

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On 22.12.2011 at 0:08 AM, mikeweil said:

10. Simona Bencini: Sabato Notte - from

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=WQpN8sXMy0E

I have no idea where this originated nor who is playing in this swinging big band - I stepped over this when I checked YouTube for Bencini videos. Here she sounds like a full-fledged experienced big band singer. Totally different from the funky treatment on Disc 1, track 2. Like Giorgia, she has a pop career in the making as well:

http://youtu.be/bIyfKuCSr-s

This tune, btw, Sabato Notte (Saturday Night) is a 1950's Italian pop hit by a singer named Mina Mazzini - check this for the original, a fine example of how easily Italians always merged pop and jazz - Mina was barely 20 when she recorded this:

http://youtu.be/g2IG4GY52jk

or this: http://youtu.be/Uiw_XB72Sxg

 

While looking for other stuff I stepped on the source for this track:

https://www.discogs.com/Parco-Della-Musica-Jazz-Orchestra-Special-Guest-Irene-Grandi-Simona-Bencini-Jazzitaliano-Live-2007/release/3896607

An all-star Italian event that deserves some attention.

R-3896607-1585470328-6277.jpeg.jpg

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