Madness is upon us! Music is exploding (everywhere)! You've come on a good day, dear reader. because it's (drumroll, please) the first annual Crazy Compilations Post! Hooray! Oodles of fun, oodles of tunes. How can you resist? And, yes, there's plenty of "Way-Out Wes Anderson," as pictured above - and in fact, there's so many artists, I can hardly breathe. Must. Find. A. Paper. Bag. To. BreatheintorighnowbeforeIfaint. There. All better (anybody got a Xanax?). Now that we're all calm, let's plow ahead, shall we?
Recently, I came into possession of a certain jazz label's "Club Collection," a box set with over a hundred CDs (I'm not kidding), all of them bursting with jazz and vocal goodness. Or some of them are. A few are "meh," several are tragic, a handful are snooze-ville (how many CDs need the same damn Dinah Washington song on them?) (does this have anything to do with my general indifference to Miss Dinah?) (why, yes, yes it does) (come at me, I ain't 'fraid of nothin'). But a select few are just downright incredible whether they bring together a group of artists under the umbrella of a theme or highlight a specific artist throughout. In other words, here's the best of the best.
I have a fondness for jazz drummers, so two collections - "Charly Antolini" just above; "Power Drummers" a bit further down the page - feature some of my favorite bucket bangers, like Roy Haynes, an ultra-drummer if ever there was one (his career lasted over 60 years) (for reals); Gene Krupa, of course; and Louie Bellson, a crack drummer who was married to Pearl Bailey, dont'cha know. There's scads more, of course, and they're all insanely good.
Some people can't get into French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, pictured above, because they think his recordings sound too old-timey. If you know any people like this, de-friend them immediately (virtually and otherwise) (likewise, if you know anyone who enjoys Kevin Costner movies, with the exception of "The Untouchables," de-friend them, too) (but that's another story). Django, as you might know, was a 1930s and 40s-era gypsy-influenced swing guitarist who all but created his own genre. Oh, and did I mention that two of his playing fingers were paralyzed? They were. Or that artists as varied as Beck and Jerry Garcia cite him as a major influence? They did. Further down, our friend Way-Out Wes has his own CD, too, and, yes, he's also cited Django as an influence.
Meanwhile, let's talk about the lovely Miss Shirley Scott.
Shirley was known as the "Queen Of the Jazz Organ" (because someone has to be Queen of such things) (and if anyone deserves that title, it's her). There aren't many female soul-jazz organists out there (that I know of), and she's one of many singular artists featured in "Coffee Time Jazz," just below, one of the few multi-artist compilations in this box set that I really enjoyed. The other is "Swinging Jazz Piano," further down, a compilation of sensational pianists, like Francy Boland, the renown Belgian jazz prodigy; Earl Hines, the quintessential Prohibition-era pianist; and Red Garland, the jazz artist's jazz artist whose influence is still being felt today. Really, you can't go wrong with either one of these collections.
Then there's that other Shirley. Miss Shirley Horn, who's plopped down on - what? Eiderdown? Somebody's ratty duvet cover? We'll never know for sure (and that pains me).
That aside, surely you know Shirley (ha!) (...I'll show myself out), the unparalleled jazz vocalist and pianist who collaborated with everyone from Miles Davis to Wynton Marsalis. They all wanted to work with Shirley, whose smokey-cool voice makes me think of The Blue Note in NYC just before closing, or the ultimate hangover cure on a Sunday afternoon, Shirley herself. And dont'cha know? She was first encouraged to pursue her dreams by her grandmother, who was (wait for it) a skilled organist. I know, my head's spinning, too.
Meanwhile, in late 1920s and early 30s, the Germans were just mad about Teddy Stauffer. Look at the couple below gettin' jiggy to his music (and the guy's pose; feel free to insert your own Sprockets jokes here).
Teddy was the man, the Swiss-born "swing king" who did it all, from music to acting to anything else he put his mind to. America caught on to him through celebrities of the day, who, in turn, first learned of him in Acapulco - the celeb spot du jour of its time - where he not only played his music, but managed several hotels. He even founded his own disco called "Tequila a Go-Go" (yet another reason to find a time machine). And let's all sigh with relief that he made it out of Germany just in time. Though the Nazis labeled his music "Jew Jazz," he freely (and sometimes coarsely) taunted them during his stage performances before having the good sense to get the hell out of Dodge. Somehow, Teddy also married five times, the most famous of his wives being Hedy Lamarr (the heart-stopping screen beauty who looks fine here, and very free-and-easy here). His jazz-swing compilation is a must. Even the titles are fun, like "Stop! It's Wonderful!" and "Dilemma: Foxtrot."
Beauty's where you find it, happiness is a warm puppy and magic is sometimes really-really deep. Say what? I know. So confusing. But you've just been given a major hint for this week's offering from The Secret Song File, who, along with yours truly, experienced a special kind of magic years ago upon attending one of the few Broadway performances of "Carrie: The Musical."
Who knew that seeing this train wreck would today be considered the equivalent of having a dog with two tails or a nose with three nostrils; there's no use for either, but they each exert their own fascination (I guess). Suffice to say that the tourist couple one row ahead of me was flossing their teeth during the overture. Doesn't that say it all? That and the grim, super-serious final bow that the actress playing "Carrie" gave at curtain call, as if she'd just played all the roles in a double bill of "Macbeth" and "Starlight Express" (if she could have committed harakiri - live! on stage! - she would have). Which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with this fantastic, brand-new, deep-house chillout compilation, except to say that you just know Barbara Cook wishes she hadn't backed out of the role of Carrie's mother after being nearly clobbered to death by a piece of falling scenery.
See? Some things really are magic.
Cast your spell in the comments, if you're so moved!