We here at We Heart Music are big fans of Putumayo and their focus on music from around the world. They are like a cool friend who makes really great mixed tapes. Forget splapdash and haphazard, the selections they chose have something to say and blend so well with the others.
If you don’t know much about jazz, I can think of no better introduction. I especially like Toussaint’s interpretation of “St. James Infirmary”, a traditional dirge of a funeral march, but he picks a pace between a skip and a strut.
If you go to their website www.putumayo.com you will notice they have compilations from every continent except Antarctica. Espana and Brazilian Café are in my musical rotation and so will Jazz.
Jazz is a pretty broad musical term. This compilation concentrates on an era when big band was on the wane and rock n’ roll was still on the horizon. It was a time when jazz musicians were exploring and pushing the boundaries in tightly knit combos and singers were adding their own voice to the classic ballads of Gershwin and Hammerstein.
What I like most about this record is it’s not the typical collection of usual suspects you’d grab while ordering a latte or picking out furniture. This is a thoughtful compilation that both beginners and aficionados can enjoy. There are singers on this record that I’m unfamiliar with like Blossom Dearie and Maxine Sullivan and there are well know icons playing recordings I never heard before: Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson in “I Was Doing All Right” and Cannonball Adderly and Bill Evans playing a rather upbeat “Waltz for Debby.” Then there is Anita O’Day’s interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” If any person captured the feeling of jazz in the 5o’s it was her. Hip, cool and non-conforming, she could swing with the best of them while adding her own sassy spin.