• review-cant-takeThey Can’t Take These Songs
  • Connee Boswell
  • Audio CD (September 3, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: September 3, 2002
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Jasmine Music

This high-quality, bargain priced, two-disc set from Jasmine Records is chock full of rare delights from the unparalleled Connie Boswell. Connie was not only a singer of otherworldly beauty, with an impossible sense of swing, she was also a multi-instrumentalist, arranger, actor, composer and humanitarian. Ella Fitzgerald famously named Connie as her main influence, and as leader of the immortal hot-jazz vocal group, The Boswell Sisters, Connie influenced other artists ranging from The Andrews Sisters to Artie Shaw. Connie’s silky, Louisiana-accented voice, brilliant jazz phrasing, and phenomenal interpretive abilities make her someone no fan of jazz or classic pop should miss. With this set, producer Geoff Milne has given us a multitude of recordings new to CD, which nicely compliment tracks on other existing compilations. We can only be grateful.

The songs featured range from 1931 to 1946. The earliest song here, the rollicking “Concentratin’ (On You),” features the likes of Manny Klein, Eddie Lang, and Jimmy Dorsey. Both Dorsey brothers are featured on the infectious “Me Minus You.” “On I’ll Never Say ‘Never Again’ Again,” Connie and the exuberant musicians of Ambrose & His Orchestra gradually nudge one another higher and higher into the swing stratosphere. “Dinah” finds the accompanying jazz combo given an extraordinary amount of solo space, which is put to great use, and helps to illustrate why Connie was so beloved by jazz musicians. There are also frequent appearances of orchestras led by the likes of John Scott Trotter, Harry Sosnick and, most notably, Victor Young, who works wonders on Connie’s softer material. Crosby fans will be excited to see no fewer than six duets with Bing, including some rare radio stuff, such as a live radio version of “Basin Street Blues” and a comedic take on “Everything Happens To Me” (others are “Start The Day Right,” “An Apple For The Teacher,” “Between 18th & 19th On Chestnut St,” and “Yes, Indeed.” Another Crosby-related wonderment occurs with the five songs on which Connie is accompanied either by Bob Crosby’s full orchestra, or his Bob Cats. This innovative Dixieland band recorded several brilliant classics with Connie, including “Ah! So Pure (Martha),” a profoundly joyous work which I unreservedly put forth as a highlight of all recorded sound.

This set also features some amazing balladry and, considering what she did for his immortal “All Alone,” it is no wonder that Irving Berlin named Connie as “the finest ballad singer in the business.” On Jerome Kern’s “Look for the Silver Lining,” and the Gershwin compositions, “Soon” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” Connie exhibits a talent so rare that her current forgotten status is incomprehensible. If one examines Connie’s work from the twenties and thirties with The Boswell Sisters, her solo sides, and her 50s LPs, it should become apparent that Connie deserves to be remembered and enjoyed alongside Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and other masters of the 20th century. These two discs are an important step in boosting Connie Boswell’s artistic legacy, and helping people discover this magical music which, like fine wine, has aged so nicely.

Reviewed by Harley

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