Get Happy 

Get Happy

For my birthday, I got a compilation double CD of Harold Arlen songs, performed by jazz musicians.

List of tracks here; review here.

I've been listening to Jazz FM in Toronto as I drive the "new" car we recently assumed the lease on--a very nice 2004 Toyota Matrix. One evening I heard Jack Sheldon, singing and playing trumpet, with Ross Tompkins accompanying on piano, "Over the Rainbow." The announcer either said something about a new Harold Arlen compilation--or I figured out that this was the most likely recent production that the station had played from.

It turns out to be a product of Concord Jazz, drawing on catalogues from various companies going back decades. They generally don't give the date of any of the tracks, but they give the information about who is playing. I guess they wanted to reinforce the idea that this is a new, exciting product, not "old" stuff.

I doubt that it's selling well; I couldn't find it at the biggest music stores I know in Toronto (although I didn't look in the Jazz section--I looked under Harold Arlen), so I ordered it over the Internet. I found out more about Jack Sheldon while I searched; many of his albums have probably not sold well.

Lovely stuff, and the Sheldon-Tompkins is especially nice. The business side makes me think again that all the long-hair music is dying with the public--classical and jazz. For classical, the Three Tenors have made a ton of money, then Andrea Bocelli, and maybe a young Charlotte Church. Who else? For jazz, Diana Krall and Norah Jones are always mentioned--the latter hardly a jazz performer. Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" remains a big seller, and John Coltrane, "A Love Supreme."

More and more people, it seems, want Sarah McLaughlin on the one hand, and 50 Cent on the other.

I remember Jack Sheldon as Merv Griffin's "sidekick," goofing around, part of the opening monologue, as well as playing trumpet and probably singing. In surfing around I've discovered that he sort of played himself on a sitcom that lasted one season: The Girl with Something Extra.

Ross Tompkins played piano in the Tonight Show orchestra led by Doc Severinsen when Johnny Carson was host.

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