The Wall Street Journal review raved about Will Friedwald’s The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums so I had to read it. I actually have listened to about half of the albums Friedwald selected as “great.” There are some quirky (to me) selections. Friedwald includes three Doris Day albums…but only two by Frank Sinatra! The biggest surprise to me was the inclusion of Tiny Tim’s album! I’m eager to track down the albums I haven’t listened to. Will Friedwald’s writing about each album informs and delights. I picked The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums as one of my favorite books of 2017. If you love this kind of music, you’ll find plenty to like between the covers of this book! How many of these great albums have you heard? Did any of your favorites not make Will Friedwald’s “great” list? GRADE: A
Preface and Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: The Origins and Development of the Pop Music Album from To Mother to The Voice xiii
1. Louis Armstrong, Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson 3
2. Fred Astaire, The Astaire Story 11
3. Chet Baker, Let’s Get Lost: The Best of Chet Baker Sings 25
4. Tony Bennett and Bill Evans, The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album and Together Again 34
5. Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music 43
6. June Christy, Something Cool 50
7. Rosemary Clooney, Blue Rose 59
8. Nat King Cole, After Midnight 69
9. Nat King Cole, St. Louis Blues 76
10. Bing Crosby, Bing with a Beat 82
11. Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, Bing & Satchmo 91
12. Doris Day, Day by Day and Day by Night 97
13. Doris Day and Robert Goulet, Annie Get Your Gun 105
14. Blossom Dearie, My Gentleman Friend 112
15. Matt Dennis, Matt Dennis Plays and Sings Matt Dennis Bobby Troup, Bobby Troup Sings Johnny Mercer 117
16. Billy Eckstine, Billy’s Best! 127
17. Ella Fitzgerald, Lullabies of Birdland 134
18. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Ella & Louis 142
19. Ella Fitzgerald, Mack the Knife: Ella in Berlin 148
20. Judy Garland, Judy at Carnegie Hall 154
21. Johnny Hartman, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman 163
22. Dick Haymes, Rain or Shine 171
23. Billie Holiday, Lady in Satin 177
24. Lena Horne, Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria 184
25. Barb Jungr, Every Grain of Sand: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan 190
26. Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, and Annie Ross, Sing a Song of Basie Annie Ross, Sings a Song with Mulligan! 197
27. Eydie Gormé and Steve Lawrence, Eydie and Steve Sing the Golden Hits 209
28. Peggy Lee, Black Coffee 214
29. Peggy Lee, The Man I Love 221
30. Marilyn Maye, Meet Marvelous Marilyn Maye 228
31. Carmen McRae, As Time Goes By: Live at the Dug 234
32. Anita O’Day, Anita O’Day Sings the Winners 241
33. Della Reese, Della Della Cha Cha Cha 250
34. Jimmy Scott, The Source and Lost and Found 255
35. Bobby Short, Bobby Short 265
36. Nina Simone, Nina Simone and Piano! 272
37. Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours 280
38. Frank Sinatra, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! 288
39. Jo Stafford, Jo Stafford Sings American Folk Songs and Jo Stafford Sings Songs of Scotland 297
40. Jo Stafford, I’ll Be Seeing You (G.I. Jo) 307
41. Kay Starr, I Cry by Night 314
42. Maxine Sullivan, Memories of You: A Tribute to Andy Razaf 321
43. Jack Teagarden, Think Well of Me 329
44. Tiny Tim, God Bless Tiny Tim 338
45. Mel Tormé, Mel Tormé with the Marty Paich Dek-Tette (Lulu’s Back in Town) 347
46. Sarah Vaughan, Sarah Vaughan 355
47. Sarah Vaughan, “Live” in Japan 361
48. Dinah Washington, Dinah Washington Sings Fats Waller 368
49. Margaret Whiting, Margaret Whiting Sings the Jerome Kern Song Book 376
50. Lee Wiley, Night in Manhattan 383
51. Cassandra Wilson, Belly of the Sun 390
Discography 399


42 thoughts on “THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS By Will Friedwald

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Not much here for me other than the Sinatra, Nina Simone and the Chet Baker. I downright hate Edie Gorme and Steve Lawrence, Mel Torme and Bing Crosby.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, this music represents my parent’s generation. I started listening to music when Rock & Roll and Motown was just beginning. Like you, I do enjoy listening to Sinatra, Simone, and Baker.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Steve beat me to saying that I hate Bing Crosby.

    Some good choices but some quirky ones. I’d go with the Ray Charles and IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS, but others I’d pick were missing,

    When Della Reese died, I remembered my father playing DELLA DELLA CHA CHA CHA many times when we were growing up.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, the radio stations my parents listened to played this kind of music so I listened to it second-hand. I was more interested in the music of The Drifters, The Temptations, and The Supremes.

  3. Patti Abbott

    It is our parents’ music but because of that I can tolerate even singers like Crosby. It reminds me of my earliest years when this was still played on the radio. Doris Day’s earliest music is different from what came later. Much purer.

    1. george Post author

      Patti, I plan to buy some of these “great” albums and listen to them in 2018. I have the Greatest Hits CDs of Doris Day, but as you say her early sound was much purer.

  4. Jeff Meyerson

    Doris is still alive at 95, by the way.

    Just a travel update: Jackie is driving me nuts about the unrelenting cold, and since we’ve taken care of all of the doctors, etc., plus the fact that we’re driving, we have moved up our departure four days from next Sunday to this Wednesday, Can’t wait to get out of here!

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, our high temperature on Wednesday is supposed to be 20 degrees–and then the Polar Vortex hits us again and we’ll be down into the single digits for another week! Safe travels!

  5. Art Scott

    I’m not especially keen on jazz vocals, but this guy’s no fool. the Jack Teagarden pick alone proves that. I’d populate the list with several Blossom Dearie records (from her Verve period), not just one. The real glaring omission is Jimmy Rushing’s The You and Me That Used to Be (2nd choice, Five Feet of Soul).

  6. Deb

    I have about twenty of these. I love all of Frank Sinatra’s 1950s Capitol recordings—especially IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS. Other favorites: Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Tony Bennett, Nina Simone, Anita O’Day, and Sarah Vaughan. I like Doris Day, but I think of her more as a Big Band “girl singer” as opposed to a jazz singer.

  7. wolf

    Strange selection imho – but of course I didn’t hear too much of US music as a child and as a teenager I was into Rock!
    Bing Crosby, Nina Simone ec were played on English radio stations which I only turned to when FN wasn’t available.

    Tiny Tim brought back fond memories – a story from my time as a student :
    In the late 60s I found a room on the third floor of a house – the first floor/ground floor was a famous bar which I also frequented and where I met my wife in 1969. And the corresponding room on the second floor was rented out to a friend of mine who was the first openly gay person I came to know – he was really ok and introduced me to the music of Tiny Tim …
    As a gay person he could not become a teacher at a public school (in the year 1970!) so he went to teach English at a private school with many international pupils. Later we met from time to time in another bar(I was busy in IT, traveling a lot in the 70s and 80s …) and exchanged knowledge on Britain and the USA until he sadly died of cancer.

      1. george Post author

        Wolf, usually we get these arctic blasts of cold weather at the end of January and into February. This Polar Vortex arrived early and is causing plenty of problems. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are still open so Lake Effect snow is piling up. Erie, PA got 60 inches of snow in two days. Perrysburgh, not far from here, is dealing with 9 feet of snow! We have about a foot of snow on the ground with more in the forecast for the next few days. Some people are contending with burst water pipes because of the unrelenting cold temperatures.

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, Tiny Tim was a huge attraction for a few years. He made many appearances–and got married!–on the TONIGHT SHOW with Johnny Carson. I’m not sure I could endure listening to a whole album of his music.

  8. maggie Mason

    I wondered about the lack of Keely Smith. I just read in her obit. about how Prima was a jokester and did great comedy bits when performing. I didn’t remember that, but was perhaps too young.

      1. Todd Mason

        Tagging in for a moment for (probably not) Cousin Maggie, the “classic” Keely Smith albums most people might suggest would probably be I WISH YOU LOVE and/or THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC, though the various albums with her husband of the time called THE WILDEST also might give you a good sense of her work. The one I’d like to hear that I haven’t is the live date with the Count Basie Orchestra.

      2. Todd Mason

        Yes, but some are very well-recorded given the technology that was at hand…and some triumph over the technological shortfall. I particularly like that what recording we have of Scott Joplin recording his own music was n player-piano rolls he cut.

  9. Jeff Meyerson

    I have a Louis Prima CD too, in my New Orleans collection. Keely Smith sings on a number of the songs.

    We’re getting what they rightly call “nuisance snow” today, but Jackie is going to have her hair washed, cut, and colored so she’ll be ready to go Wednesday, We’ll stay in tomorrow and Monday and get our last chores done on Tuesday.

  10. Todd Mason

    Glad you’re listening to some O’Day, though she recorded a fair amount of more challenging work, that ran alongside and inspired some of the more free-jazz singers, including Sheila Jordan, Jeanne Lee and Patty Waters.

    Tiny TIm was notable mostly, aside from novelty, for his revival of 1920s pop music in the ’60s, much as the cartoonist Robert Crumb has been as a musician. Not all his recording has been in that somewhat offputting falsetto.

    Doris Day has been a Big influence on some younger singer/musicians such as Nellie MacKay.

      1. wolf

        Here in Europe Doris Day became very popular after she sang “Que sera, sera” – you know in what movie?
        The movie also became a favourite …
        I was very impressed by it, still a teenager.

      2. Todd Mason

        Wolf, it was a hit film in the US, though not Hitchcock’s biggest success…but the song became Day’s biggest hit and signature song…it was the theme of her sitcom, THE DORIS DAY SHOW.

      3. wolf

        Oh yes, THE DORIS DAY SHOW – we didn’t see stuff like that in Germany because we only had 3 state owned tv channels. The plethora of private channels started later – first in Italy.
        I still remember sitting in a bar late in the evening in the 80s in Vrsar (Croatia, at that time a part of Yugoslavia) and suddenly the proud owner showed us that he could get all those Italian tv channels.
        When I saw reruns of SNL on MTV Europe I called out: Yes, yes – and then I watched it regularly … (still in b&W)

  11. Todd Mason

    Bing Crosby’s early jazz-pop and even later recording in this mode is certainly better and more influential than his later syrupy stuff. As most folks might note, he was the first US pop superstar baritone, as well.

    I’d suggest the selections of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross are not the ones I’d make, though I can seen the argument.

    Never did much like Bobby Short, though I can appreciate his technique.

  12. Kent Morgan

    I must have vinyl in my collection for about 80 per cent of the artists. However, in most cases I would probably chose a different recording. I have always been a big of jazz-type vocals. I received a gift certificate for Christmas from our large independent book store that carries a large selections of CDs and vinyl plus a fine music book section so I will be going there shortly to see if they have this book in stock.

  13. Kent Morgan

    Not so fast, Kent. I just checked and the book costs $54.00 in Canadian funds at my local store and they would have to order it. I checked ABE and can get a new copy shipped from the UK by for $34.00 with free shipping to Canada. And we wonder why people are buying online. Looking at the size of the book, I estimate that it would cost me close to $20.00 if I had to mail it somewhere in Canada by Canada Post. My local libary doesn’t have the book.

      1. Kent Morgan

        I went to a large Chapters store that did have the book in stock. After looking through it I am going order it online from it where the cost would be about the same as bookdepository, If I bought it in the store, I would have been $54.00 Canadian. Making the trip was worthwhlie as I also came across an autobiography by Dave Frishberg that I didn’t know about so also will order it. Frishberg is a favourite of mine, who I saw here in Winnipeg a few years ago. Before the concert, I had the chance to speak to him as I had written a little about his baseball songs in my sports column and he had sent me a CD. After I told him that I was a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he announced during the concert that he was changing his playlist for that reason and he did several songs that he had not performed often about the Black Sox. I expected Van Lingle Mungo or Dodger Blue.

      2. george Post author

        Kent, you’re going to enjoy THE GREAT JAZZ AND VOCAL ALBUMS book. And, the Winnipeg Jets should have an easy win tonight when the Buffalo Sabres come to town. The Sabres are terrible.

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