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Songbook: September in Rain
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  • This unauthorized European compilation presents 25 recordings of 24 songs composed by Harry Warren (1893-1981), one of the most prolific and successful songwriters working for the Hollywood movie studios in the 1930s, `40s, and `50s, performed by a variety of jazz musicians and traditional pop singers. Unencumbered by the need to seek permissions or pay licensing fees, the Definitive Records label plunders the vaults of U.S. record companies, mastering tracks from old discs and assembling a who's who of performers including vocalists June Christy, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, the Four Freshmen, Johnny Hartman, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torm‚, Dinah Washington, and Lee Wiley, as well as jazz stars such as Count Basie, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, Harry Edison, Tal Farlow, Erroll Garner, Jim Hall, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Sonny Stitt. As that list suggests, the tracks must come largely from the 1950s, although no information about recording dates or original record labels is provided. Warren wrote the songs, dating back to his first published work, 1922's "Rose of the Rio Grande," for various films, notably a series of movie musicals of the `30s starting with 42nd Street, and they were performed originally to swing arrangements. Here, they get smooth `50s traditional pop and post-bop jazz treatments for the most part, and they don't suffer from the transition. The album demonstrates that Warren's melodies are highly adaptable to jazz interpretations, even some of the early ones. For example, Desmond and Hall give a cool jazz reading of 1931's "By the River Sainte Marie," as if it had been written for them. The album may be short on annotations, but it lives up to the title of its overall series, "Jazz Giants Play Great American Composers." ~ William Ruhlmann
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