CD Reviews

Music on the Web (UK)

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

[ Jazz index ] [Nostalgia index]  [ Classical MusicWeb ] [ Gerard Hoffnung ]

Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby




Bluebird's Finest 092663964 2



Lena Horne - vocal with 1-8 Orchestra conducted by Lou Bring
9-12 Orchestra conducted by Horace Henderson, featuring Illinois Jacquet, tenor saxophone; Lennie
Hayton, piano; Big Sid Catlett, drums.
13-15 Personnel unknown.
Recorded 1941-1944.

1. Stormy Weather
2. What Is This Thing Called Love ?
3. Ill Wind ( You're Blowin' Me No Good )
4. The Man I Love
5. Where Or When ?
6. I Got A Right To Sing The Blues
7. Mad About The Boy
8. Moanin' Low
9. As Long As I Live
10. I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues
11. I Didn't Know About You
12. One For My Baby ( And One More For The Road )
13. Suddenly It's Spring
14. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
15. I'll Be Around

The late Billy Strayhorn is on record as referring to Lena Horne as the most wonderful woman in the world and after a career spanning over fifty years it is perhaps a little difficult to comprehend what a significant artiste and star she was in her earlier period. Hopefully the performances on this compilation will somewhat redress the balance. These selections were recorded between 1941 and 1945 when Miss Horne was in her mid twenties and already a veteran of stage and screen of at least five years standing.

I suppose the closet comparison in terms of style of delivery and interpretation that springs to mind would be Ivy Anderson of Duke Ellington orchestra fame. Both singers have an economy of emotion and an almost straight way of reading a lyric that is nevertheless most effective in its subtlety. One could never accuse either singer of wearing their heart on their sleeve and because of this many of their recordings are much more satisfying in that they truly do justice to the works of the better songwriters rather than just use them as a vehicle for self indulgence.

The material contained here is a very interesting mixture of well known standards and some tunes that are now almost forgotten. "Stormy Weather " is possibly the song most often associated with Lena Horne and her version is pure delight. Of equal stature are "Ill Wind" and the song which must be one of the finest by that outstanding team Rodgers and Hart -"Where Or When."

The Noel Coward song is well read and illustrates the point most adequately that he was in the same league as his Trans-Atlantic contemporaries. My favourite tracks are the first two Ellington compositions, particularly "I Didn't Know About You " which is a sadly neglected piece, being possessed of a first class melody and a sophisticated lyric to rival any in that time of superb musical poetry.

The accompaniments on the first twelve tracks are excellent complete with some impressive tenor from Illinois Jacquet . However, the final three selections are not of the same calibre, replete as they are with a rather cloying vocal chorus backing. This is, on the whole, a most enjoyable disc and one worthy of a place in any collection of 20th Century singers.
Dick Stafford

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: