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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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LENA HORNE

Unforgettable

Jasmine JASCD 249

 

 

CD1
Stormy Weather
1. Tomorrow Mountain
2. Out of This World
3. Summertime
4. Mad About the Boy
5. Ridin' On the Moon
6. Stormy Weather
7. Baby Won't You Please Come Home?
8. Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home
9. I'll Be Around
10. I Wonder What Became of Me
11. Just One of Those Things
 
Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria
12. Today I Love Everybody
13. Let Me Love You
14. Come Runnin'
15. Cole Porter Medley: How's Your Romance?/After You/Love of My Life/It's All Right With Me
16. Mood Indigo
17. I'm Beginning To See the Light
18. How You Say It
19. Honeysuckle Rose
20. Day In Day Out
21. New Fangled Tango
22. I Love To Love
23. From This Moment On
 
CD2
Lena at the Sands
1. Maybe
2. The Man I Love
3. Get Rid of Monday
4. Jule Styne Medley: Ride On a Rainbow/Never Never Land/I Said No/Some People
5. You Don't Have To Know the Language
6. Out of My Continental Mind
7. Rodgers & Hammerstein Medley: A Cock-Eyed Optimist/I Have Dreamed/Surrey with the Fringe on Top
8. Harburg Medley: Thrill Me/What is There To Say/The Begat
9. Don't Commit the Crime
 
Lena - Lovely and Alive
10. I Concentrate On You
11. I Get the Blues When It Rains
12. I've Grown Accustomed To His Face
13. I Got Rhythm
14. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)
15. I Want To Be Happy
16. I Surrender, Dear
17. I Found a New Baby
18. I Understand
19. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
20. I Ain't Got Nobody (and Nobody Cares For Me)
21. I Only Have Eyes For You

 

This double CD contains four LPs recorded between 1957 and 1962. They illustrate Lena Horne's versatility in a variety of musical styles, from the poignancy of Stormy Weather to the blues of Baby Won't You Please Come Home. The second and third LPs were recorded "live" at the kind of venues where Lena made her biggest impact as a night-club singer. But she also appeared in more than a dozen films, as well as being well-known as a campaigner for civil rights. She was sophisticated enough as a black vocalist to be acceptable as a guest on many television programmes, even in an era when black artists were disgracefully discriminated against.

Lena could project songs as powerfully as Shirley Bassey or with the emotion of Judy Garland, but she could also phrase songs as adventurously as many jazz singers. When I reviewed two of these LPs before (http://www.musicweb-international.com/jazz/2010/Lena_Horne_AMSC1009.htm), I noted some of the jazz influences in her vocals. The first of these LPs includes a lot of jazz musicians in the backing band but they get little chance to play jazz.

A good example of Lena's varied talents is New Fangled Tango, which she delivers suggestively but with sophisticated innocence. The brief sleeve-note tells us that the song was introduced in 1956 by Ethel Merman in the musical Happy Hunting, but it was a song which Lena made her own. Her ability to deliver ironic songs is evident in Yip Harburg's lyrics for The Begat (wrongly listed on the sleeve as The Beat). Another fine example of her vocal skill is Honeysuckle Rose, which she sings with backing from just a double bass and piano - and sometimes no accompaniment at all, without her losing the pitch. The various medleys on these discs exhibit her ability to switch almost imperceptibly from one emotion to another.

She seemed to feed off audiences, which is why studio albums like Lena - Lovely and Alive are slightly less exhilarating than live albums like those recorded at the Sands or the Waldorf Astoria. Yet the last LP is still exciting, with its varied songs all happening to start with the word "I". As in live concerts, Lena gave her all every time she performed. She was a real trooper - and a magnificent singer.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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