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Five Classic Albums

AVIDJazz AMSC 1259


CD 1 Dakota Staton - The Late Late Show
  1. Broadway
  2. Trust In Me
  3. Summertime
  4. Misty
  5. A Foggy Day
  6. What Do You See In Her?
  7. The Late, Late Show
  8. My Funny Valentine
  9. Give Me The Simple Life
  10. You Showed Me The Way
  11. Moonray
  12. Ain't No Use
    Dakota Staton - Vocals Jonah Jones - Trumpet Hank Jones - Piano Van Alexander - Conductor Other musicians unknown

    Dakota Staton - Dynamic
  1. Let Me Off Uptown
  2. Night Mist
  3. Anything Goes
  4. When Sunny Gets Blue
  5. They All Laughed
  6. I Wonder
  7. Say It Ain't So, Joe
  8. Too Close For Comfort
  9. Little Girl Blue
  10. It Could Happen To You
  11. Some Other Spring
  12. Cherokee
    Dakota Staton -Vocals Sid Feller - Arranger, conductor Harry “Sweets” Edison - Trumpet Other musicians unknown

    Dakota Staton - More Than The Most!
  1. September In The Rain
  2. Walkin' By The River
  3. East Of The Sun
  4. I Could Make You Care
  5. It's You Or No One
  6. High On A Windy Hill

    Dakota Staton - More Than The Most! (continued)
  1. My Heart Beats Like A Hammer
  2. The Crazy Things We Do
  3. Some Days It's Mondays
  4. The Song Is Ended
  5. Good-Bye
  6. Love Walked In
    Dakota Staton -Vocals Sid Feller - Arranger, conductor Other musicians unknown

    Dakota Staton - Crazy He Calls Me
  1. Crazy He Calls Me
  2. Idaho
  3. Invitation
  4. Can't Live Without Him Anymore
  5. I Never Dreamt (You'd Fall In Love With Me)
  6. The Party's Over
  7. Angel Eyes
  8. No Moon At All
  9. What Do You Know About Love
  10. Morning, Noon or Night
  11. How Does It Feel
  12. How High The Moon
    Dakota Staton - Vocals Nelson Riddle - Conductor (tracks 7-12) Howard Biggs, Sid Feller - Conductor (tracks 13-18) Other musicians unknown

    Dakota Staton - Time To Swing
  1. When Lights Are Low
  2. Willow Weep For Me
  3. But Not For Me
  4. You Don't Know What Love Is
  5. The Best Thing For You
  6. The Song Is You
  7. Avalon
  8. Baby Don't You Cry
  9. Let Me Know
  10. Until The Real Thing Comes Along
  11. If I Should Lose You
  12. Gone With The Wind

  13. Dakota Staton - Vocals, Phil Woods - Alto sax, Ray Beckenstein - Flute, alto sax, Romeo Penique - Oboe, flute
    Jerome Richardson, Bud Johnson - Tenor sax, Don Hammond - Reeds, George Berg - Baritone sax, Joe Wilder, Taft Jordan - Trumpet Kenny Burrell - Guitar, Hank Jones - Piano, George Duvivier - Bass, Don Lamond - Drums, Sid Feller - Arranger, conductor

    From her birth in Pittsburgh to her death at the age of 76 in a nursing home in New York City (her health had been deteriorating for some time following a stroke eight years earlier), Dakota Staton's story is an intriguing one. The Most Promising Newcomer in a Downbeat poll of 1955, she was to convert to Islam, the faith of her then-husband, and subsequently moved to England in 1965 where she spent several years. On her return to the States, from the early 70s, she focussed on gospel and soul-jazz at first. She continued to record from time to time and her career extended into her 60s. Although she had some successful recordings to her name during the 1990s, I suspect that nothing quite surpassed this batch of albums featuring her work from as early as 1954 through to the autumn of 1959.

    The pick of the bunch, for me, will always be The Late, Late Show. This is a disc I owned in my youth and such was its potency that I hardly need to play it to hear it again. Every track is lodged in my memory, not least because of the part that Hank Jones on piano and Jonah Jones (no relation) on trumpet played in this breakthrough album for Staton. Whether on ballads, her strongest suit for my money, or on up-tempo swingers, her powerful voice and impeccable diction plus an innate feeling for the blues guaranteed that she would create a stir. There isn't a below-standard offering on The Late, Late Show but if I had to choose typical samples of her art then I would select Trust In Me, Summertime, What Do You See In Her, Give Me The Simple Life and Errol Garner's Misty.

    Whether working on a familiar tune or a little known song, she makes them her own. She was in the charts reaching as high as No. 4 with the title track. And by the way, this woman can scat, with style and exuberance. Just one quibble, I really enjoyed the vibes and guitar players on this album alongside Hank and Jonah Jones but no details are available of who they were. All we know is that the group was a sextet.

    On the second recording here, Dynamic!, Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet, typically muted for the most part, graces the scene. While two or three tracks are below par, the rest make for pleasurable listening. Distinctive as Staton was, on Little Girl Blue she sounds almost Eartha Kitt-like while on Some Other Spring, there's a definite Billie Holiday timbre to her voice. Again, plaudits to the (anonymous) vibes, guitarist and pianist. They also served! Arrangements were by Sid Feller who arranged and conducted, too, on More Than The Most!, the third album to be found in this collection. I confess to finding More Than The Most! pretty disappointing. As much as anything, it is the undistinguished nature of much of the material that is responsible. True, Dakota turns in decent performances on standards such as East Of The Sun and Good-Bye but overall the songs lack quality.

    The next album, Crazy He Calls Me, is better and Nelson Riddle takes a bow as one of the arrangers. It is helped by a rousing (and fun) version of How High The Moon where Staton launches into uninhibited scat. On Invitation she delivers an interpretation of this ballad worthy of comparison with her best. The swinging No Moon At All isn't far behind and, given a fine arrangement and orchestration, Angel Eyes is another winner. Nevertheless, there are half a dozen tracks where the material once more lets Dakota down. Fortunately, things pick up considerably on the final selection, Time To Swing. This time around, too, we know who the supporting musicians are. There are two outstanding tracks, namely Willow Weep For Me and You Don't Know What Love Is. On the former number, there's a fine tenor sax and the superb Hank Jones on piano, to add to Staton's intelligent reading of the lyric. On the album as a whole, when singing established standards, she shines brightly. Notwithstanding the occasional dud, there's far more gold than dross.

    Dakota Staton acknowledged her debt as a singer to Dinah Washington. Perhaps she herself can't be ranked among the truly greats such as Sarah Vaughan, for instance, but these two CDs remind us of what an accomplished performer she was and why her arrival on the jazz scene was greeted with such acclaim. And, for this reviewer, at least, there will always be the excitement I felt when I listened to The Late, Late Show album for the first time.

    James Poore


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