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Billy Eckstine: Once More with Feeling

Album Notes

Personnel includes: Billy Eckstine (vocals); Billy May (arranger); Benny Carter, Wilbur Schwartz (alto saxophone); Fred Falensby, Justin Gordon (tenor saxophone); Chuck Gentry (baritone saxophone); Conrad Gozzo, Pete Candoli, (trumpet); Jimmy Rowles (piano); Bobby Gibbons (guitar); Red Callender (bass); Irv Cottler (drums).

Recorded at RCA Studios, Los Angeles, California on January 28-29, 1960. Originally released on Roulette (25104).

Billy Eckstine was looking back more than forward by 1960, and his second record for Roulette featured two remakes of familiar hits he'd enjoyed almost 20 years earlier. He also covered two average themes from forgottable movies, the first being the title song (from a Yul Brynner vehicle), the second being "Secret Love" (from a Doris Day film). It may read like a desultory date, and indeed it would have been if not for the presence of a solid jazz band and the surprisingly sympathetic arrangements of big-brass auteur Billy May. Eckstine had fronted some strong bands in the past and consequently doesn't need to strain his voice to equal the energy behind May's charts, even on unexpected swingers like "Stormy Weather" and "I Hear a Rhapsody." "I Apologize," one of the two remakes, is treated with glimmering strings that certainly suggest the '40s but work in the context of the adult-pop era as well. [A 2003 reissue by Roulette Jazz added two bonus tracks, a pair of pop crossovers originally released as a single.] ~ John Bush


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