Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ivie Anderson (with Duke Ellington Orchestra)...It Don't Mean A Thing

Ivie Anderson (sometimes Ivy) (July 10, 1905 – December 28, 1949) was an American jazz singer. She is best known for her performances with Duke Ellington's orchestra between 1931 and 1942. Anderson, was born in Louisiana. With a sweet, clear singing voice, she was a popular attraction with Ellington's band. Her performance of "Stormy Weather" in the movie short Bundle of Blues (1933) was only eclipsed by the later and far better-known version sung by Lena Horne in Horne's movie that was also entitled Stormy Weather (1943).

Over Ellington's long career as bandleader, his indifference toward vocalists changed with the hiring of Anderson, who was generally considered the best vocalist he ever employed. She also appeared as a singer in the Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races (1937) and the same year in Hit Parade of 1937 (as Ivy Anderson).

Distinguished Jazz critic Nat Hentoff described Anderson as 'easily the sensitive and musical female vocalist Ellington ever had'. She 'sang with a simplicity ... so artless that she is ... remarkably neglected in ... writings about jazz.' She 'sang with a supple warmth and caressing beat that made her one of the unforgettable voices in Jazz.' He also calls her 'direct, completely unpretentious and ungimmicked'

There are many who regard Ivie Anderson as The Duke's best vocalist, and this compilation can only reinforce that belief. It covers the period of her career with Ellington, from 1932 when she first recorded with him, to 1942 when she gave up touring, and throws in for good measure her 1946 recording of Empty Bed Blues. She melded perfectly with the orchestra, establishing herself in a predominantly male clique, and was adored by musicians and audiences alike. As with all the best singers, her personality radiates from the recordings, be they exuberant up-tempo numbers like "Truckin'" or melancholy numbers like "Troubled Waters".

This very generous 26 track compilation is a joy to listen to. Recommended without reservation.