Personnel includes: Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie, Wardell Gray, Fats Navarro, Oscar Petiford, Art Blakey, Sarah Vaughan.
Give your Luther Vandross CDs a break. Instead, slide in this snappy ten-track import featuring Billy Eckstine and orchestra after the wine has flowed and get ready for the passion. The arrangements are no joke: the swings are intricate with hooks as powerful as Joe Frazier's left paw; the ballads feature similar subtle thematic shifts that are staples of mystery movies; and Eckstine, in his prime, handles the big glossy charts as adroitly as Nascar drivers handle left turns. "Blowing the Blues Away" is a blistering swing piece that will blow you away with its tenacity. He counters with "If That's the Way You Feel," where he uses a low, throaty, melting vocal on a song designed to corral a straying heart. Lovers of James Brown's '60s rendition of "Prisoner of Love" will melt like butter in a hot kitchen when listening to Eckstine's smooth interpretation. Effortlessly, he gives his all every time. "Without a Song" is a prime example of his silky assurance. Female vocalists are spotlighted on "Don't Blame Me" and "Mean to Me," adding variety and showcasing members of Eckstine's revue. Cool Mr. B is a most appropriate title for these ten daggers. ~ Andrew Hamilton