I'm a sucker for value-priced 'jazz diva' compilations, most of which are fairly predictable. This one, though, contained some surprises.
The first surprise is the two tracks devoted to Marilyn Monroe. I am going to be honest and say that I personally do not care for them, but that is a reflection of my personal tastes and not the merits of her singing. The real surprises were Blossom Dearie, Dakota Staton and Lorez Alexandria. I was very familiar with Blossom and own some of her albums, but Dakota and Lorez were new to me and a delight. The reason I mentioned Blossom Dearie as a surprise is because her work is rare on these diva compilations and she deserves wider exposure in my opinion.
Other tracks that made this set worthwhile were the ones by Annie Ross, Helen Merrill, Shirley Bassey and Chris Conner. While I am familiar with all of their work they, too, rarely show up on diva collections and their inclusion was like adding a spice.
The remaining tracks were predictable in that they show up time and again on compilations such as My Kind of Music: Jazz Divas -the Original Divas and Jazz Divas (Dig) (both of which are also in my music library). However, they are important and are signature songs of the vocalists who sing them. Imagine any collection containing Peggy Lee that does not contain Fever or Julie London without Cry Me a River - it would be lame, right? More importantly there are some 1950s icons that were wisely included: Keeley Smith, Anita O'Day, Dinah Shore and Eartha Kitt to name a few.
If you are a fan of 1950s jazz vocalists this is a wonderful and inexpensive compilation. It would be a perfect complement to either or both of the albums I mentioned above, and stands out from them because of some of the divas represented in this collection. I am going to include a complete track listing for each of the two discs in this set so you can see what you will be getting if you do purchase it.