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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fred Astaire - "The Astaire Story, With The Stars of Jazz at the Philharmonic" 3xVinyl, LP, Reissue, 1953 (DRG Records)

A superb box set of three discs plus booklet.  A recording made in Los Angeles, December 1952, with Jazz musicians Oscar Peterson, Barney Kessel, Charlie Shavers, Flip Phillips, Ray Brown, and Alvin Stoller.   And our Fred Astaire as lead vocalist and tap dancer (or percussion for this album).  Astaire is an iconic dancer of films made from the Depression 1950s to the atomic age 1950s.  He is also an incredible vocalist, and in fact, Cole Porter has commented that Fred is his favorite singer of his songs.   This album exposes that sentiment as well as his role in modern Jazz.   

Astaire sings the classics that he's known for through his various film work, but for the first time, the setting is him being surrounded by Jazz players.  "The Astaire Story" is very much a jazz vocalist album with the additional highlights of him tap dancing as a percussionist of sorts.  What one would think this would have been an alien landscape for Astaire is actually a natural playground for him.  He sings like a great jazz vocalist, who due to his sense of rhythm, totally makes him one with the arrangements on this album.   The gentleman in hand is a sophisticated figure, and this album reeks of sophistication and style.  Brilliant package with an excellent booklet of photos and drawings done at the time of the session.