“Jazz” – Compilation with a dozen jazz legends [TrackList below] – Putumayo World Music PUT 309-2 *****:
“Women of Jazz” – Compilation with ten great female jazz voices [TrackList below] – Putumayo World Music PUT 286-2 *****:
Putumayo has specialized in fine presentations on CD of a variety of world music, often selling in shops that don’t carry any other recordings. Since the label’s owner Dan Storper has moved to New Orleans, there has been an expected increase in the jazz compilations put out by Putumayo, due to Dan’s increased exposure to jazz in that city. These are two excellent examples of the careful selection of tracks and the often solid improvement in sonics of older mono recordings due to their remastering for CD release.
Most of the selections on the Jazz compilation are from the 1950s, a golden age for jazz. The universal appeal of this unique and original American musical style is stressed in the 12 tracks, which include such top performers as Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Chet Baker and Billie Holiday. Among the vocalists, classic tracks from Holiday, Baker, Louis Armstrong, Mose Allison, Nat Cole, Anita O’Day, Nina Simone, Blossom Dearie and Maxine Sullivan are heard. The Armstrong treatment of “I Was Doing All Right” sports the great Oscar Peterson as accompanist. Another great pianist on the CD is Hampton Hawes, though let’s not forget Nat Cole and Bill Evans. There is an interesting two-page essay on the music in the note booklet, followed by a whole page commentary specifically on each track, with a large-format photo of the main performer. The writer is New Orleans radio host Joel Dinerstein.
The Women of Jazz compilation brings us extraordinary performers from different eras, who have made or are making their mark on jazz history. The rich tradition of female voices in jazz covers some classic 1920s ballads, some tunes from Broadway shows, and selections from The Great American Songbook. Influences of pop music, rhythm ‘n blues and country music are heard in some of the tunes. Some of these names may not immediately jump out at listeners, but on the strength of their one selection out of these ten I could see some listeners going out to look for an entire album by one of their new favorites. Madeleine Peyroux is heard in her big hit “Dance Me to the End of Love,” with a voice that many feel resurrects that of Billie Holiday. Cassandra Wilson really swings “Love Come Back to Me,” and the blues background of singer Etta Jones comes thru in her rendition of “Since I Fell for You.” Hope Waits’ tune also comes out of a R ‘n B background, and the rock world was the starting point for vocalist Jennifer Hartswick, heard here on the jazz vocal standard “Lover Man.” Again there are extensive notes on each singer, this time in both French and English, plus their photos.
“Jazz” – Nina Simone: My Baby Just Cares for Me, King Cole Trio: ‘Deed I Do, Maxine Sullivan: ‘Tain’t No Use, Louis Armstring & Oscar Peterson: I Was Doing All Right, Zoot Sims: Someone to Watch Over Me, Chet Baker: There Will Never Be Another You, Anita O’Day: It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing, Hamp Hawes: The Sermon, Blossom Dearie: They Say It’s Spring, Mose Allison: Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans: Waltz for Debby, Billie Holiday: Lover Come Back to Me.
“Women of Jazz” – Melody Gardot: Goodnite, Madeleine Peyroux: Dance Me to the End of Love, Cassandra Wilson: Lover Come Back to Me, Sophie Milman: Lonely in New York, Hope Waits: I’ll Be Satisfied, Kate Paradise: Mean to Me, Jennifer Hartswick: Lover Man, Stacey Kent: Shall We Dance?, Della Griffin: It Could Hapen to You, Etta Jones: Since I Fell for You
— John Henry