Frank Sinatra, Frankie Randall, Peggy Lee, George Williams, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Lee Wiley, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Doris Day, Mel Tormé, Plas Johnson, Illinois Jacquet, Nat Pierce, Neal Hefti, Ralph Burns, Ernie Andrews, Morgana King, Boswell Sisters
Reference: BMCD 3501
Bar code: 8427328035019
New York is a city of cities, a melting pot of nations, a hodgepodge of creeds, accents, tongues, colors, and customs. It is a city of crazy dimensions. There is the low-slung, ramshackle Swing Alley and Strip Lane jammed against the towering seventy-story sweep of glass and concrete that proudly crowns the Rockefeller Center, to name but a few of the contrasts in New York City. New York is a welter of clashes, both cultural and social. There is the sixteen-mile Broadway, the longest street in the world, a fantastic paradox of elegant shops and blaring honky-tonks, where one hundred-andfifty dollar alligator bags are sold a few blocks from a flea circus, where glittering stars are seen at theatre time at the Hayden Planetarium on Central Park West. This CD is a celebration of all that New York has to offer.
"New York City has inspired more good songs than perhaps any other city in the world (what's the competition, Paris? London? Vienna?), and a ton of great recordings of those songs. That's the raison d'être behind this multi-artist compilation, 74 minutes of great music hooked around the city and its various aspects. It comes with a booklet that includes lyrics but no annotation, but none is needed. There are too many highlights to enumerate, and some of them -- like Billie Holiday's "Autumn in New York" or Lee Wiley's version of "Manhattan" -- need no comment or explanation. Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Frankie Randall, Lee Wiley, Mel Tormé, Morgana King, and the Boswell Sisters are among the singers represented, while big bands led by the likes of Duke Ellington, Neal Hefti, Nat Pierce, and Louis Armstrong (whose "There's a Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon for New York" is almost worth the price of admission by itself) and a few renowned soloists such as Illinois Jacquet, Plas Johnson, and Nat King Cole all get to show what they can do in various pop, blues, and jazz tributes to the city.
As a pleasant surprise, the programmers skipped any of Ellington's various renditions of "Take the 'A' Train" in favor of "Sidewalks of New York," while the Billy Strayhorn classic is represented by Morgana King's recording. One does sort of wish there were information on some of the big-band tracks indicating who the specific soloists were, but otherwise this is a totally delightful collection. The sound is state of the art and the overall effect of the collection is spellbinding and hypnotic at various points, and seductive throughout, even as it makes its way to the logical finale, the rendition of "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin from the movie On the Town."
Bruce Eder -All Music Guide