First time I heard Hugh ‘Peanuts’ Whalum was a year ago, autumn 2006. I already shared with you what I felt when I first heard him sing: ‘I’ll Close My Eyes’ (When I heard Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum, I closed my eyes…), and I mentioned several other (mostly jazz) singers I use to listen to. Among them are Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Dinah Shore, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole… But I’m also listening to more recent artists such as Luther Vandross, Michael Bolton, Harry Connick, Jr, Diana Krall, Robin McKelle, Norah Jones and Dianne Reeves (Dianne Reeves: Good vibes, and Good work).
So beside being all renowned jazz singers/musicians, what do they have in common? Some of them have made covers of the same songs, which is frequent in jazz music. But it always takes me by surprise when I hear the first notes of a song, and then I realize arrangements are different as well as the singer. I was listening to the radio when I heard: ‘Blues In The Night’. I didn’t recognize the song right away but then I heard Katie Melua‘s voice. It definitely was very different from the ‘original’ Rosemary Clooney‘s interpretation (and by ‘original’, I mean the first version I heard of the song). I had the same feeling a year before, when I heard Diana Krall‘s version of: ‘Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep’(this song was written by Irving Berlin for the movie ‘White Christmas’, in which Rosemary had a starring role with Bing Crosby). These modern versions of those songs are great, but I must say I prefer the ‘original’ ones by Clooney. Excepted for ‘Mambo Italiano’ and ‘Sway’, beautifully sung by Dean Martin (you know, Dean Martin will be forever cool).
My interest for jazz music started when I was still a teenager, with a friend whose parents were working at a music store. Her mother was a huge jazz fan from the 1940s and 1950s, so it is no coincidence if I have developed a keen interest for jazz songs from this era (as well as for the Golden Age of Motion Pictures, with Davis, Flynn, Dietrich… They did it their way). I don’t remember exactly which was the first Rosemary Clooney’s song I listened to (probably ‘Come on – A my house’) but I remember being told she was considered as one of the finest female (jazz/pop) vocalists of her time. And she still is to me. She sang with Frank Sinatra (‘Peach Tree Street’, ‘Cherry Pies Ought To Be You’), Tony Pastor (‘It’s Like Taking Candy From A Baby’) and with Marlene Dietrich (‘Too Old To Cut The Mustard’, ‘It’s The Same’), among others. My favorite song from her is: ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ (‘…You make me feel so spring has sprung!‘), it swings, skips and drops, and it is stuck in my head. Although the Chet Baker and Sinatra’s version of this song were also excellent (as well as the Mills Brothers’ version of: ‘Be My Life’s Companion’).
Clooney died of lung cancer in 2002, and in 2005 the Rosemary Clooney House Museum opened in Augusta (Kentucky). In September of this year was the 9th annual Rosemary Clooney Concert in Maysville, with the Pointer Sisters performing (they were at the Casino de Paris 10 days ago, by the way). An event I would like to attend if I am in the U.S at this time.
Yet another song I really like from her is: ‘As Time Goes By’, and like the title of this post tells it all, Rosemary Clooney: time doesn’t go by…