Just in Time for Valentine's Day: 'Jazz for Lovers' Fantasy Records releases a new collection of classic recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, called Jazz for Lovers. Musician and critic David Was reviews the collection, and finds some nice surprises.

Just in Time for Valentine's Day: 'Jazz for Lovers'

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Hey all you men out there, Valentines day is just around the corner. Here's a timely review of a new collection of old recordings called Jazz for Lovers. Here is musician David Weiss.

DAVID WEISS reporting:

Fantasy Records has just repackaged another eight CDs from its gargantuan jazz catalog and is using the sobriquet, for lovers, in order to market these kinder and gentler offerings to those who might find jazz forbiddingly intellectual and austere.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. WEISS: This is the high culture version of those 60s mambo records that featured martini glasses and satin gown beauties on the cover. Turn down the lights, blow the dust off the needle, and let the games begin.

Even if it wasn't the intent of serious artists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane to have their music serve as a soundtrack to suburban debauchery; the intimacy of these small combo recordings are the perfect compliment to affairs of the heart, or even solitary meditation. The 1950s were the heyday of the small jazz combo, and the furious tempos and crashing dynamics of the big band and bebop eras had given way to a chamber music that was comparatively subtle and sensual.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. WEISS: I always like an excuse to champion the legacy of jazz pianist Bill Evans, whose chopinesque approach to the instrument yielded a tonal palette that one associated with musicians like Horovitz and Rubenstein, except that those cats couldn't make it up as they went along. Evans' music might be for lovers, but the languid tempos and soft touch he employs will please those who love music first and foremost. The ballot was never in better pianistic hands.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. WEISS: Sarah Vaughn is not exactly the most intimate singer in this collection of artists. If only because her operatic gifts make one sit up and listen rather than recline and let the music serve as background.

(Soundbite of Sara Vaughn singing "Easy Living")

Mr. WEISS: But of all the artists in this series the tenor-sax stylings of Stan Getz are perhaps the most fit for coating a low-lit room in velvety sonic textures. Best known for popularizing the Bossa Nova in the 1960s, Getz was a legatee of the soft bury sound that Lester Young had established in the 30s and 40s.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. WEISS: There's even an apocryphal jazz legend that places Lester and Charles Mingus at an apartment window in Manhattan as Stan Getz goes by in a pink Cadillac. There's a guy who's driving a Caddy on money from the way I play, Lester is reported to have said. Whether stolen or appropriated, Getz's lyrical and songful approach to improvisation is what most people like about the music called jazz.

BRAND: Our reviewer is David Weiss; half of the musical duo Was (Not Was).

(Soundbite of music)

And if you visit our Web site you can hear four jazz legends, each featured in the Jazz for Lovers CD series, do very different takes of the song Easy Living. Listen in at NPR.org.

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