Oct 20, 2012

Nancy And Teresa And Sunny, Too, Plus The Third Man And A ThoughtfulSecret Song!

Before Diane Krall, before Eva Cassidy and way before Snorah Norah Jones, there was Nancy LaMott, a New York City-based jazz and standards vocalist who was largely unknown outside of Manhattan cabaret circles. But just like Cassidy, tragedy finally brought her worldwide fame. She died of cancer at age 43 in 1995 - just as she was cresting a wave of national fame after performing (twice) at the Clinton White House. She married her longtime boyfriend from her hospital bed one hour before her death.

Okay, so boo-hoo, that's sad and all (no, really), but why are people still talking about her? Give a listen to "Beautiful Baby," my favorite LaMott CD, and you'll understand why. I honestly can't think of a modern-era singer whose voice is so pin-perfect clear, yet so heartfelt.

And guess who we have to thank for bringing LaMott her first blush of fame? Yes, Kathie. Yes, that one. I know, right? She was a huge fan and friend and introduced LaMott to national audiences. So the next time you're drinking a bottle of wine, give a toast to LaMott (but finish off the bottle for Kathie) (then pop the cork open on another) (Kathie would).

And now for another lovely lady, Miss Teresa Brewer, in all her fiery red-haired glory:

Teresa, as you may know, was one of the most popular jazz and R&B singers throughout the 1950's, and she started early, hitting the road at five-years-old with a touring radio show.

When you first listen to her live jazz and pop standards LP, "Live At Carnegie Hall & Montreux, Switzerland" (a Cheerful Exclusive! courtesy of my Cuban Luvah) (hooray!), you'll be wowed by her energy. Brewer may look delicate, but her voice soars - ka-bam! - like a canon shot. Yet she's also a great vocal stylist, and in this LP, all but bunny-hops from one genre to the next. It's delirious fun.

Hold tight, kiddies. When film-noir gets dark, it sometimes gets really-really dark. Have you seen Carol Reed's "The Third Man?" It's a great film-noir - and, yes, the director was Reed, a wildly underrated director. It wasn't Orson Welles, though many seem to think he was involved behind the camera. He wasn't, though he did write one hilarious line for his briefly featured character involving clocks, and I won't spoil the fun by quoting it here in case you haven't seen it.

Just as memorable as the film itself was Anton Karas' score, which made heavy use of the Viennese zither player, to both romantic and creepy effect. A well-respected musician, he had never composed anything before - nothing - when Reed tapped him for the soundtrack.

The movie was a smash, and the score was, too, which was mighty unusual not just because of the time period, but the genre of the movie. Who ran out and bought film-noir scores? For "The Third Man," they did. This edition has dialogue snippets throughout, but don't fret, they're between the music cuts, not imbedded, so you can easily remove or uncheck them in your MP3 player if you like.

Sometimes you just want to kick back with a cocktail (or another legal or illegal substance and such) and chill. Right? Am I right? (say yes). Well, then, Sunny and her boys have the perfect soundtrack for just such an occasion.

Okay, so maybe they're not boys, exactly (more like, um, you know, well-fed middle-aged jazz musicians), but whatever you want to call them, combined or otherwise, this collection of tasty-smooth, small-combo jazz numbers is a delight, and features a wonderful Boston-based jazz singer named Sunny Crownover. So shake the cocktail shaker or torch a fattie, as the kids say, because Sunny's got you covered. 

It's almost Halloween, so the Secret Song File is being extra careful in the shower these days. After all, some nut job dressed as a nurse or someone's dead mother might jump out with a big ol' butcher knife. You can never be too careful. 

Does this have anything to do with today's new-new-new CD? No. Does Bette Davis' first name mean anything? Yes. Just stick a "y" in there after the second "t." Is a layette - a midcentury set of linens for children - somehow involved? Yes. Just substitute a "v" for the "y." Is this the easiest set of hints ever? Yes, but then the Secret Song Film is feeling thoughtful and thankful (*cough!*), so just go with it. It won't happen again.

Have a puddytat in your household? Hide it come Halloween! No, really, I'm so-o-o serious. There's too many psychos out there.

In the meantime, meow and hiss in the comments, if you like.


Mindy said...

Thanks for the Teresa Brewer live! Much appreciated. And you're right, Nancy LaMott is wonderful.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Glad you're enjoying Brewer. And hooray, a LaMott convert!

Coercin' A Bull said...

As ever, a brilliantly eclectic mix :)
Thank you so much.

Keir said...

Consider one of Orson Welles's final films: Transformers: The Movie (1986)
where he left Harry Lime long ago to take on the role of Unicron, a ravenous robot-planet that devours everything in its path.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're welcome, Coercin'. Glad to hear you're enjoying!

And Keir, I haven't seen "The Transformers," but given that it has Orson Welles, Scatman Crothers and Leonard Nimoy, I might just have to.

E Craig said...

Great selection of music.

Love it!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks, E Craig! :)

Anonymous said...

I guess Nancy LaMott is really a secret. Since if one d'loads the zip file & attempts to open it... up pops the request for a p'word. I see other posts saying what a great album. So am I being picked on?

Otherwise love your blog.

Doctor SPC

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

No one's picking on you. We're all too cheerful here for that! The PW for all files is on the blog page, upper right-ish: thecheerful