Freitag, 2. April 2021

Lee Wiley - Sings Songs By Rodgers & Hart (1940)

Her husky, surprisingly sensual voice and exquisitely cool readings of pop standards distinguished her singing, but Lee Wiley earns notice as one of the best early jazz singers by recognizing the superiority of American popular song and organizing a set of songs around a common composer or theme - later popularized as the songbook or concept LP. She was also a songwriter in her own right, and one of the few white vocalists with more respect in the jazz community than the popular one. Even more tragic then, that while dozens of inferior vocalists recorded LPs during the late '50s and '60s, Wiley appeared on record just once between 1957 and her death in 1975.

Lee Wiley pioneered the "songbook" concept, for which a singer exclusively interpreted the work of one composer.

Her Gershwin and Cole Porter projects of 1939-40 were major successes, as is the music on this album with songs by Rodgrs & Hart. In a fairly straight but strangely sensuous manner, Wiley sings eight songs by Rodgers & Hart while backed by a variety of all-star players associated with Eddie Condon, including pianist Joe Bushkin, trumpeters Max Kaminsky, Billy Butterfield and Bobb Hackett, tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, and Ernie Caceres on baritone and clarinet.

Although many of these songs have been interpreted countless times since, few singers have reached the emotional peaks that Lee Wiley scaled in her versions of "A Ship Without a Sail," "Let's Fall In Love," "I've Got the World On a String," "Down With Love" and especially "Glad to Be Unhappy." This set belongs in every serious jazz collection.

The inside cover reads" " This little musicale was a lot of frolic in the making. Dick Rodgers, in the breathless middle of two new scores, dropped everything to help us work it out. Paul Whiteman lent us the best two man rhythm section in the business, Artie Shapiro and Stud Wettling, better known as the Rider. Bradford Gowans, who was building a rotor boat on the shores of an estuary near North Reading, Mass. forgot all about that and caught the Merchants back to write four of the orchestrations. For the other four Tommy Dorsey kindly lent us the services of Paul Wetstein, Jr., his brilliant young arranger. Lee sang the songs over and over. And finally we went to the studio and made the records. Let me tell you we had a good time I'm Sure you're going to enjoy it too. Ernie Anderson February, 1940."

These eight songs were published in 1940 on the Gala label on four 78 RPM discs.


Lee Wiley - Sings Songs By Rodgers & Hart (1940)
(320 kbps, front cover included)

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