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About the Reviewer - Wes George

I have been associated around the jazz genre all my life, growing up in a family of jazz professionals my parents played the classic swing and big band dance music throughout their 30 years on the road.

wes george

I grew up being bathed during practice nights by my mother who was the vocalist and pianist in the band and she would wash me during rehearsal breaks on a Sunday evening.

Although I heard all of the pop music growing up in the 50's, 60's and 70's and the soul, rock and country music that my brothers were playing in their bands I started playing soul, funk and fusion jazz in my live shows in the 70's and apart from a radio break in Canada whereby soft rock was the menu I continued with my live shows until 1994 when JazzNet247 Radio Europe was founded.

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Artist : Julie London

Album :
Around Midnight

Year : 1960

Label : Liberty

julie london

Personnel : Julie London : Vocals | Dick Reynolds : Conductor and Arrangements

The fact that I have choosen an actress as a jazz album selection may come as a surprise to many of the 'true blue jazz fans', especially when there are so many back catalogue albums from stalwarts such as Lady Day, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. It's probably true that this trio would have been more synonymous with the great jazz standards than Julie London, but her albums come across as a fresh approach to classic songs, the analogy that I can offer is today's Smooth Jazz carrying on the legacy of Mainstream Jazz from the 30's to the 60's.

During the past 50 years when I mentioned to friends and colleagues in the music industry that I actually listen to jazz as opposed to the music I was playing to make a living they turned their noses up and commented 'That's just a blurred noise with no catchy beat'. To a jazz person that about summed up their level of understanding and unfortunately their depth of any real knowledge of music. I have found that in my experience 90% of people 'listen to music' and all too often do not anaylze it or as I mentioned in another article 'Hear' it. - Read Personal Notes No. 880.

So Julie London comes along in the mid 50's with her clear voice, jazz standards and wonderful arrangements and her previous notoriety paves the way for a new audience to listen to jazz.

Born Nancy Gale Peck in 1926 in Santa Rosa, California to vaudevillian parents she was discovered as an actress whilst working as an elevator operator in downtown Los Angeles and began a 35 year old acting career.

Her attractive model looks paved the way for female lead roles in numerous westerns and co-starred with Rock Hudson in 'The Fat Man' in 1951 and with Robert Taylor in 'Saddie In The Wind' in 1958 and opposite Robert Mitchum in 'The Wonderful Country' in 1959.

Known for her husky, smokey voice and languid vocal style she signed a recording contract with Liberty Records in the mid 50's and released 32 albums of pop and jazz standards during the 50's and 60's. She recorded her signature song 'Cry Me A River' in 1955 and sang it in the movie 'Girl Can't Help It' in 1956 and was ranked number 48 in NPR's list of 50 Greatest Jazz Vocals of all time.

Around Midnight was arranged by Dick Reynolds who also conducted the orchestra on this 1960 outing for Liberty and it was recorded in the Capitol Studios in Los Angeles with Si Waronker as producer.

Julie chose an amazing collection of songs which of course lead off with Monk's standard 'Round Midnight' which sets the pace for many of the songs on the album which incidentally is the perfect album to set the mood for your own cocktail hour.

Errol Garner's 'Misty', Sonny Burke's 'Black Coffee' and Billy Strayhorn's 'Lush Life' add to the cool mood whilst 'Lonely Night In Paris' eases the tempo upwards with a double bass intro leading to a full big band backing à la Duke or Count Basie as is Arthur Schwarzt and Howard Dietz's classic 'You And The Night And The Music' and George and Ira Gershwin's 'But Not For Me'.

For me the ballads are the real deal and other classics on this 12 track set include 'In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning', 'Don't Smoke In Bed', 'Something Cool', Irving Berlin's ' How About Me' and the Jule Styne penned 'The Party's Over' which concludes an album of delights that will hopefully change the minds of listeners who claim jazz to be just a 'blurred noise'.

If you would like to be introduced to the world of Julie London and the Great American Songbook jazz standards, find a copy of Around Midnight', pour a glass of wine and sit back and relax in a dimly lit atmosphere to savour and fully appreciate this wonderful album.  ^

Review by

Wes George (former Webmaster with Sony Jazz UK)
Blog Page - Facebook.com/streetjazzblogpage6 top of page

Similar Artists - Peggy Lee, Blossom Dearie, Doris Day, Dinah Washington, Brenda Lee, Anne Shelton, Chris Connor

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