Whoopee! It's the New Year! Do you have any resolutions? I do. To offer you, loyal reader, more and more exclusives. Let's start out with two, count 'em, two! They're a bit off the beaten path, as they say - so much so that I had trouble finding pictures for both and for one, I couldn't even find a proper biography. What to do, what to do.
Case in point is Rita Moss, a jazz-pop vocalist whose "Talk To Me Tiger" is a thrilling, one-of-a-kind LP. Known for her four-octave range, Rita, or "Queen Moss," as her fans dubbed her, only recorded three full-length records (that I can find). She's often compared to Yma Sumac, but I think of her more as a precursor to Minnie Riperton, what with her eerily floating, way-up-high soprano and ersatz instrumentations. The title track is actually the LP's most ordinary, likely shoe-horned in by a record exec hoping for a radio hit, but otherwise, Rita's anything but ordinary. For reals.
Perhaps even more obscure, but just as fantastic, is the cooler-than-cool La Vergne:
La Vergne was a jazz singing pianist and a beloved part of New Orleans nightlife in the French Quarter from the 1940s through the late 1950s, proving particularly popular at "Old Absinthe House," a Bourbon Street hotspot with a storied 200 year history. Though she recorded a few LPs, she remains largely unknown to jazz aficionados, and those who do know of her tend to write her off as "just another bar singer." That's a shame, I think, since her feather-like phrasing sneaks up on you, as if a friend or lover were whispering their most intimate thoughts just within earshot. Perhaps if she'd been more showboat-ish, her reputation might be more conspicuous. But I like her just the way she is. Elegant, light and above all stylish. If you happen to have a pounding hangover this morning - and I know some of you do - then La Vergne is the perfect antidote.
But then, many of you may be continuing the party as we speak - and why not? It's Thursday, which as everyone knows, is the New Friday, so why not keep partying, just like everyone's fav Broadway redhead, Gwen Verdon?
Gwen lit up the stage, as you might know, in "Redhead," a 1959 musical she agreed to do - but on the condition that Bob Fosse come on board to direct and choreograph (smart gal). It wasn't the biggest hit of either of their careers, but it did have a good run and a jaunty song score by Albert Hague and Dorothy Fields. Yes, there was an original cast recording, but there was also a finger-snappin' Big Band version by Meyer Davis, the renown bandleader who got his start in 1915 and was still kickin' in the late 1950s. So pour another cocktail and light another bowl of legally-authorized, all-natural greenery. The New Year is just starting!
But what if you're not still partying? Or not hungover? Maybe you had a perfectly pleasant evening last night - with friends, family or by yourself - and now just want to musically cleanse the air about you for the coming year. Not to worry. The Happy Himbo of Classical Music is here to help.
Yes, our old friend JBell, whose swooning fans are legion, is here to pluck at your heartstrings with a collection of Bach concertos - because, as you probably know, in addition to being the reigning Slice of the Sinfonietta, he's also an unrivaled violin virtuoso ("Oh, right, that," say his fans). It's a magnificent CD. Thrill to his wild emotion, his poignant subtlety, as he gives that Bach what for!
And, no, I have no idea what he's doing with the engorged-seeming violin scroll tip, or what it's meant to suggest, but I suppose we can all take a guess:
The Secret Song File is thrilled by this year already, her 29th - and, yes, she's been 29 for some time now, but. What. Ev. Er. As she was telling her therapist the other day, each new year is like a drum roll...which kind of reminded her of that new-ish indie movie with a terrific jazz soundtrack (and a blink-or-you'll-miss-it cameo by the Classical Himbo himself) (no, really). The movie itself? Imagine Debbie Allen with a baton and you'll get the idea. In other words, it's a lot of fun and frequently silly to boot (in a good way).
But silliness aside, the soundtrack is a winner, and it warms my heart (which I keep buried in the backyard) that a jazz movie was even made, much less an accompanying soundtrack. Given that, who knows what 2015 will bring? Another movie studio hack (with better leaked movies than "Annie")? A cure for stupid? Deep thinking politicians? Anything is possible.
Happy New Year's to you and yours. I actually mean that.
Tell us all the resolutions you'll break in the comments, if you like!