I have an embarrassingly large CD and record collection – spread across two flats (not both mine, in case you were wondering) and occupying everything from shelves to suitcases. Courtesy of YouTube, I thought I’d share some of the choice items – particularly some of the less well known ones.  Think of it as a slowly evolving, digital mixtape...

There’ll be a new song most days (at least that’s the plan) so keep checking back and please post your comments and suggestions as well.

Johnny Hartman is primarily remembered for the album he recorded with John Coltrane which contains, for some, the definitive version of Lush Life. But his other Impulse! albums are almost as good. I Just Dropped By To Say Hello features another tenor genius, Illinois Jacquet as well as Hank Jones on piano.

Don't You Know I Care (Or Don't You Care To Know) is a not so well-remembered Ellington tune. The lyrics are by Mack 'brother of Hal' David – he and Ellington also wrote I'm Just A Lucky So-and-So together. Jacquet weaves some beautiful lines around Hartman's stately vocal and proves that, when you know what you're about, 8 bars are really all you need for a solo.

 

Another largely unsung talent, Al Wilson was a member of The Jewels before signing to Soul City records in 1967. This was his first single and it went nowhere. Dusty knew a good song though and covered it on her Cameo album. Jimmy James and The Vagabonds and Jackie Ross also recorded credible versions but here's the original.

The following year, Who Could Be Lovin' You was featured on Wilson's first album Searching for the Dolphins – which is glorious. He enjoyed some success with a cover of Oscar Brown Jr.s The Snake and one big hit (in 1973), Show and Tell, but his Soul City album remains his artistic peak.

Dolphins contains great covers of a couple of Jimmy Webb tunes (including a version of By The Time I Get To Phoenix that bears comparison with You Know Who). Webb also arranged Who Could Be Lovin' You, Willie Hutch wrote it and it even has The Blossoms on backing vocals. How could that fail?

 

So a request has flooded in...  We had to have some Abbey Lincoln sooner or later but what to choose?  Thank you, John, for suggesting this one.

Five years after her death, Lincoln remains revered by many and completely unknown by others.  Her first album was a fairly traditional affair complete with orchestral arrangements and cute/sexy cover pic but by her fourth (and first great) recording – Abbey Is Blue – and it's follow up, Straight Ahead, she had begun to create the template that would inspire many other jazz vocalists for years to come. 

She recorded sporadically until relatively late in her career when she produced nearly a dozen albums for Verve.  But Abbey Is Blue remains a career-high and from that here is her version of a Kurt Weill and Langston Hughes song from their 'American opera' Street Scene.

 

Lurlean Hunter had already spent more than a decade playing clubs, primarily in Chicago, before signing a deal with RCA in 1953. Three albums followed and a fourth on Atlantic in 1960. For a few years she enjoyed some success but retired from the music business in 1971. She sings with great feeling, perfect intonation and a lovely, slightly husky tone. The bulk of her recordings are finally available via a compilation on Fresh Sounds records. Perhaps this recording – of a song forever associated with Sarah Vaughan – will tempt you to investigate further.