Tok Tok Tok: 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Rating: 4.6/10
Rated as
: Album
Album Status
: for Fans
Released: 1999
Specific Genre: Vocal Jazz
Main Genre: Jazz
Undertones
: Soul Jazz, Pop Soul, Soul
Label: Einstein

1 Monkey-See and Monkey-Do 2 Alone Again 3 Day Tripper 4 I’ll Never Fall in Love Again 5 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover 6 Crime of Crimes 7 The Jack 8 Straighten Up and Fly Right 9 I Wish 10 Her Majesty 11 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child 12 Hallelujah 13 Boogie Woogie Bossa Nova

Love is monkey-see and monkey-do

A stylish little combo somewhere between soul and jazz, consisting (almost) exclusively of a vocalist, a double bass and a saxophone, with an occasional human beatbox serving as percussion. Tokunbo Akinro’s vocals are smooth and convincing, the resulting minimalist sound being the concept here works surprisingly well. They do covers of jazz, jazz-pop, pop and soul standards, with a heavy focus on the 1970s. Highlights are Paul Simon’s title track and Stevie Wonder’s „I Wish“, still pretty funky even in this stripped-down arrangement. This low-key, acoustic approach makes for a quite consistent quality of the different performances, their smoothified-funk-sound really only goes awry on „Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child“, where spark and soul are tossed aside. But overall, this is pleasant and heartfelt background soul jazz by a talented band. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that all moments of these 59 and a half minutes, feeling like cover-song warm ups here and there, are all equally exciting.

Billie Holiday: The Silver Collection

Rating: 6.0/10
Rated as:
Anthology
Compilation Status: Obsolete
Released: 1985
Recorded: 1956–1957
Specific Genre: Vocal Jazz
Main Genre: Jazz
Undertones: Swing
Label: Verve

1 I Wished on the Moon 2 Moonlight in Vermont 3 Say It Isn’t So 4 Our Love Is Here to Stay 5 Darn That Dream 6 But Not for Me 7 Body and Soul 8 Comes Love 9 They Can’t Take That Away From Me 10 Embraceable You 11 Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off 12 Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You 13 All or Nothing at All 14 We’ll Be Together Again

Half a love, never appealed to me

This compilation combines songs from the 1957 studio album Body and Soul and 1958’s All or Nothing at All. Many of the late 1950s recordings by Holiday which were issued as albums between 1957 and 1959 come from these same sessions (from 1956/57). No surprise then that nowadays, you can buy a double disc compilation also called All or Nothing at All (as part of the Billie Holiday Story, Part 7) which contains all the songs of the two mentioned albums as well as the whole Songs for Distingué Lovers album from 1957 (same session as for Body and Soul) – that’s all of the 1956/57 session recordings that were seperately issued on said three albums.

Anyhow, as an early single-disc-compilation compiling the alleged highlights of two late 1950s albums, this does a respectable job. Late night vocal jazz with subtly swinging arrangements and, compared to the 1930s takes, a much more foregrounded, if subdued, horn section showing up now and then. Many nice standards, but Holiday had a softer and more professional tone at this stage of her career – personally, I prefer her more emotionally aggressive tone from earlier on.

Of course it’s about the vocals from start to finish, but I don’t see anything specific about the compilation: either you already have the original albums, or you should buy the mentioned reissue of All or Nothing at All which gives you the complete picture. But actually, you should get the box set The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve: 1945-1959 which gives the total overview. Or you haphazardly got a hold of this, like me.

1, 3, 4, 6, 13, 14: All or Nothing at All (1958)
2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12: Body and Soul (1957)

Trivia: Note the compilation cover: „Over 60 Minutes of Music“. Can you remember a time when this was a selling point? Anyway, all the more reason to get the double disc with all the sessions.