I have an embarrassingly large CD and record collection – spread across two flats (not both mine, in case you were wondering) and occupying everything from shelves to suitcases. Courtesy of YouTube, I thought I’d share some of the choice items – particularly some of the less well known ones.  Think of it as a slowly evolving, digital mixtape...

There’ll be a new song most days (at least that’s the plan) so keep checking back and please post your comments and suggestions as well.

So a bit of a change of plan today.  Julie Wilson passed away on April 5th at the age of 90.  Widely know as the Queen of Cabaret, she was never a jazz singer per se but possessed an extraordinary sense of time the equal of Mabel Mercer or her heroine Billie Holiday.  She needs to be seen to be fully apprciated and here she is in all her pomp.  There isn't much on YouTube but you can find her in Kiss Me Kate in the 50s - or in an extraordinary performance of Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke's But Beautiful from 2013 when, although she is clearly ailing, her musicality remains undimmed.  Extraordinarily moving.  But for now, here's what the cabaret fans raved about.

Lorez Alexandria's recording of Baltimore Oriole (from 1963's For Swingers's Only) has been endlessly sampled and remixed but here's something equally cool from her 1964 Impulse! album Alexandria The Great. The arrangement is by Bill Marx (adopted son of Harpo, trivia fans) and would trip up many a lesser singer but Alexandria never breaks sweat. Cool, womanly and about as far away from Julie Andrews as you can get...

 

The late Kenny Rankin was a great songwriter and guitarist and a superlative singer - equally at home with pop standards, the Great American Songbook and Brazilian melodies. Here’s one of his own compositions. Mel Torme and Carmen McRae both recorded swinging versions but this one’s definitive – the perfect meeting of singer and song.

 

Here’s the cruelly underrated Zulema and her gorgeous cover of a great Marvin Gaye song. A founder member of Faith, Hope and Charity, Zulema died in 2013, largely forgotten. But for a brief while in the 70s it looked like she was going to be huge. Soul Music records are about to issue a compilation of her RCA years but this little gem won’t be on it as it’s from her debut album on Sussex Records.