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ASTAIRE'S BRILLIANT JAZZ ALBUM,
This review is from: Jazz Time (Audio CD)
“Can’t act. Can’t sing. Can dance a little” was the comment made following Fred Astaire’s first screen test. Fortunately nobody listened and Fred achieved a highly successful career in film musicals as well as well managing some latter-day dramatic roles. Whilst Fred’s voice was not the greatest, he did have great style with a lyric which was recognised by the great songwriters of the golden age who allowed him to introduce an unequalled number of songs, which later became standards and subsequently performed and recorded by all the great vocalists. However, these songs also remained part of the Astaire persona so when it was suggested in 1952 that he should re-invent them in a soft jazz style, accompanied by a sextet which included Oscar Peterson, Barney Kessel and Ray Brown, the project was soon in high-drive. Some jazz critics received the released outcome with some indifference but others were more enthusiastic and it became a popular seller. Now fifty years later, released as a double disc, there is every reason to cheer its reappearance as the nostalgic value alone stamps it as a musical milestone. Apparently, with no written arrangements, Fred, a live long jazz enthusiast, proved how able he was in such a relaxed setting to redefine all his old film hits like PUTTIN’ON THE RITZ, CHANGE PARTNERS and THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT with the aid of these talented musicians. They also have their solo moments and as a group musically explore a few pieces written for the project like JAM SESSION FOR A DANCER and THE ASTAIRE BLUES. Fortunately, Fred also brought his dance shoes to the studio and occasionally achieved some nifty steps and even played the piano on NOT MY GIRL as well as occasionally providing narration between tracks. This CD set celebrates one of those hybrid moments in recording history for which we should all be grateful.