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.

Charlie Parker recorded Parker's Mood in 1948 and King Pleasure added words five years later.  When Parker died in 1955 the elegiac lyric seemed almost unbearably prescient. The vocalese is a jazz singers's touchstone and Mark Murphy, Eddie Jefferson and, more recently, Anita Wardell have all recorded sterling versions.  Here is the original.

 

Broadway musical fans love collecting cut songs. Some, like There Won’t Be Trumpets (Anyone Can Whistle) and the grandmummy of them all, The Man I Love (which managed to get dropped from a total of three Gershwin shows) become standards. The latter finally made it to Broadway this year in An American In Paris.

Leonard Bernstein can lay claim to at least two of the best - The Story Of My Life from Wonderful Town and this gem from On The Town. Donna Murphy gives it her best weary torch singer.  If With Every Breath I Take is halfway to becoming a jazz staple, perhaps this one can make it too.

 

Jackie Paris toured with Lionel Hampton and Charlie Parker and recorded what for many – including the song’s composer – was the definitive version of Skylark. But in a career which suffered more than its fair share of reverses (chronicled in the splendid documentary ‘Tis Autumn) he never broke through to mainstream success. His voice has an appealing huskiness but, as with all the jazz greats, it’s what he does with it that counts. He could sound incredibly vulnerable on a ballad but was also amongst the ‘swingiest’ of singers and had an appealingly droll self-assurance on more up-tempo material. His sense of time is wonderfully fluid and his melodic improvisations subtle and assured.  Here he is with a Bobby Scott arrangement of a Robert Allen song.

 

Here's a favourite song by a favourite writer (Michele Brourman - lyrics here by Karen Gottlieb) and a favourite singer, Amanda McBroom.  Amanda also writes (The Rose) and Michele sings.  For all I know they are probably mean tap dancers as well.  They are stalwarts of that small but precious world of cabaret and recently packed out the Crazy Coqs in London.  I urge you to seek them out if you haven't heard them before.  Amanda's album of Brel songs, Chanson, is terrific. I sang this song in public for the first time last night so I thought it would be nice for everyone to hear it done properly...