Cry Me A River – Julie London

Sexy is, as the commercials say, “often imitated but never duplicated.”  It’s not baring lots of skin or exhibiting a particular sort of behavior but, rather, it is a natural quality that shines even through a high-button housecoat.  In other words, you either have it or you don’t.  Julie London oozed it!  Cry Me A River pretty much became her signature song and nobody ever did it better … it’s amazing how Julie’s simple but sexy rendition so completely outclasses modern ‘Divas’ with all their vocal gymnastics and glory notes!  This cut is from the May 1964 laser disc The Julie London Show with the Bobby Troup Quintet.

Old Black Magic / Night Train – Louis Prima & Keely Smith

The music of Louis Prima and Keely Smith, along with Sam Butera and the witnesses, was rooted in New Orleans jazzswing music, and jump blues.  They liked to have fun with their performances and frequently appeared in Las Vegas, as well as on numerous recordings.

While Louis and Keely clown, Sam Butera lays down what is probably THE definitive version of “Night Train”.  Sam’s solos were worth waiting for but he rarely got an entire tune to himself.

What Are You Doing New Years Eve? – Diana Krall

When the bells all ring and the horns all blow, with new love also comes the New Year and a desire to welcome it with the object of her affection.   Her plaintive cry is to embrace the dream of new possibilities together.

He loves me, he loves me not …

Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby & Dean Martin Christmas

In 1957, two giants of music paired up for a Christmas special guaranteed to put you in the Holiday mood.  Here are Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, in their prime, singing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “White Christmas”.

“Marshmallow World” may not be jazz, but it is definitely Christmas … and these two characters are definitely Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra (in a 1967 TV special).  You can’t rub them together without making sparks!

The Christmas Song – Nat ‘King’ Cole

“The Christmas Song” (Merry Christmas To You) is a true classic, written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in 1944.  It was first recorded by Nat Cole and the The King Cole Trio in 1946 … then recorded again in stereo with a full orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael, using the same arrangement for Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song album in 1961.  Since then it has been recorded more than 254 times by artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Mel Tormé himself, to the likes of Christina Aguilera and Justin Bieber in more recent times!

Skylark – Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves was born into a musical family. Her father sang, her mother played trumpet, her uncle was a bassist and her cousin is George Duke.  Although she was born in Detroit, she was raised in Denver … and in 1971, Dianne started singing and playing piano. She signed with Blue Note Records in 1987, staying with the label until 2009 when she moved over to Concord.  Performance here is at the JazzBaltica Jazz Festival in 2004.

“New Orleans” – Billie Holiday & Louis Armstrong

Here are three classic musical performances by Lady Day and Satchmo Armstrong from the 1947 motion picture “New Orleans”.  The film is a tribute to the birth of jazz, and also features Woody Herman along with some of music’s greatest legends.  The video at the top is The Blues Are Brewin’ with Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans at the lower left and Dixie Music Man on the lower right.

Black Coffee – Chris Connor

Chris Connor didn’t just sing a song, she owned it!  Born in Kansas City to a musical family, she was originally trained on the clarinet but made her first on stage appearance as a singer … and a singer she remained forever more.  Her easy going manner and distinctive ability to get ‘inside’ a lyric became her trademark.  Although she performed with big name big bands, including the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Chris preferred smaller groups and established her lasting reputation touring internationally as a solo performer leading her own trio.  She was one of only a handful of white vocalists considered to be, incontestably, pure jazz singers.

Black Coffee

by Chris Connor & Maynard Ferguson | Double Exposure

Skylark – Linda Ronstadt, Nelson Riddle

In Jazzcast #003 I pointed out the symbiotic relationship between jazz and other forms of music.  On Lush Life, the second in a trilogy of 1980s jazz albums with Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle, Linda temporarily abandons her pop/rock stardom in favor of more traditional fare.  Her excellence in any genre becomes immediately apparent from the first few bars, with the album going Triple Platinum registering sales of over 3 million copies in the United States alone.