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Review by Brad Green:
This is the jazz that those who donít ďgetĒ jazz like. No heavy be-bop; no fusion, no avant-guard eclecticism, no technical experimentations; just fine songs, fabulous musicianship and fantastic female voices.†

Come to think of it most aficionados love this stuff too. It mightnít be hardcore; but thereís an emotional core at the heart of standards like Put On A Happy Face; Manhattan; and I Wish You Love that is rarely if ever surpassed. If the blues is a formula reworked in infinite shades, then these venerable jazz numbers spring from a similar formula reworked in infinite colours. They all swing, they all contain lyrics of simple sentiments cleverly expressed, and they all have malleable melodies that can be shaped to a performerís personality.†

Did someone say personality? Here we have enough to power a city. The girlie sparkle of Blossom Dearie, the peerless phrasing of Sarah Vaughan, the emotional depth of Billie Holiday and the sultry purr of Peggy Lee come together to form a congeries of diva styles that practically defines a century of song. The CD is actually one of those pseudo-soundtracks where not all the selections are in the film Ė they simply fit the mood Ė but who could possibly care when the mood is this inviting?†

To entice us even further, a dash of contemporary cream has been squeezed into the mix. Diana Krall and Jill Phillips are immense talents, and to simply state that they sound perfectly in place among the legends mentioned above should be all the uninitiated need to know. Meanwhile, chalking one (and one only) up for the guys, Lyle Lovettís inimitable tone and timing combine wonderfully with Matt Rollingsí piano work on their rendition of Gee Baby, Ainít I Good To You.

There arenít too many music compilations that are at once so accessible and so artistically valid. Itís true that there isnít anything new here, but itís also true that just about every recording on this CD will be remembered long after the latest banalities at the top of the charts have faded the way of all fads. Anyone can appreciate the qualities of a top notch red over a bottle of soda pop, and you donít have to be a connoisseur to appreciate the value of this vintage compilation.

Published November 14, 2002

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TITLE: Kissing Jessica Stein
ID: 31458 96462
ARTISTS: Blossom Dearie; Sarah Vaughan; Anita OíDay; Jill Phillips; Ernestine Anderson; Shirley Horn; Ella Fitzgerlad; Dinah Washington; Matt Rollings with Lyle Lovett; Carmen McRae; Peggy Lee; Diana Krall; Billie Holiday;†


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