Various Artists

Signature Songs

Telarc Jazz CD-83554

George Shearing; Cab Calloway; Dave Brubeck; Dizzy Gillespie, Ahmad Jamal; Clark Terry; Errol Garner; Lionel Hampton; Liza Minelli

Toots Thielemans was once overheard claiming that his "Bluesette" represented his pension. One imagines these tunes must represent something similar to those involved on what can only be described as the ultimate sampler. Well, not really the ultimate for most musicians seem to have had a tune that they claimed (or wrote) as their own. Still, George Shearing did give us the song that Sassy did so well with Clifford Brown. Not that George doesn't deliver the goods here. "Minnie the Moocher" was pure performance and helped Calloway pay his band's wages. Desmond's "Take Five" is minus the author - although there are weird moments.! Brubeck seems more tender here than his reputation would have it. Dizzy's "Con Alma" is all reflective charm, wistful, somehow sad, and perhaps not really the definitive Diz. Jamal is exquisite, and frustrates the hell out everyone by building to a climax on "Poinciana" that barely finds release; still, they know how to tease in the grooviest way. "Mumbles" by Clark Terry is utterly silly and perfectly wonderful. And why not? Garner's "Misty" is, y'know, that tune that everyone sings. Errol does it all wrapped up in rhapsody. Hamp's "Flyin' Home" was another wage payer. Everyone is yelling and having a good time. Contrary to popular opinion, we found Liza Minelli magnificent in her Jazz film, "New York, New York" - but this title has little to do with the film or the quality of Liza's real Jazz-inflected singing. This is a flag-waver, top marks for guts - nuf sed. The liner notes give details of the albums these pieces were first issued on, and the cause is worthy. We will pass this sampler on to a small person not yet awakened to the glory of Jazz. Who knows, it might work.

by Lawrence Brazier

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