Wes Montgomery – Guitar On The Go (1963)

FrontCover1.jpgGuitar on the Go is the eleventh album by American jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, released in 1963. It included tracks recorded in October and November 1963 as well as two from early 1959 sessions. It was Montgomery’s last principal release for Riverside and he subsequently moved to the Verve label.[1]Guitar on the Go is the eleventh album by American jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, released in 1963. It included tracks recorded in October and November 1963 as well as two from early 1959 sessions. It was Montgomery’s last principal release for Riverside and he subsequently moved to the Verve label. (by wikipedia)

The final Riverside release of Wes Montgomery material (before the important label went completely bankrupt) was similar to his debut four years earlier: a trio with organist Melvin Rhyne and an obscure drummer (this time George Brown). In general, the music swings hard (particularly the two versions of “The Way You Look Tonight”), and is a worthy if not essential addition to Wes Montgomery’s discography. He would have a few straight-ahead dates for Verve, but this release was really the end of an era. (by Scott Yanow)

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Personnel:
George Brown (drums)
Wes Montgomery (guitar)
Melvin Rhyne (organ)
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Paul Parker (drums on 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. The Way You Look Tonight (Kern/Fields) 9.08
02. Dreamsville (Evans/Livingston/Mancini) 3.48
03. Geno (Montgomery) 2.54
04. Missile Blues (Montgomery) 6.01
05. For All We Know (Coots/Lewis) 4.30
06. Fried Pies (Montgomery) 6.40

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Gerry Mulligan & Art Farmer Quartet – Live In Rome 1959 (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgEuropean television did a better job at archiving live jazz than American stations during the 1950s and ’60s, as evidenced by the outpouring of DVDs of European broadcasts. The music from this 1959 appearance by the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in Rome has been widely circulated on LP and CD in various forms, but seeing the black-and-white video footage to go along with the music will be incentive for Mulligan fans to seek out this edition. The video is generally well-preserved with relatively few flaws in the aged source material, and while the camera work is odd at times (such as focusing on the upper third of the leader’s body instead of showing his hands, or showing the musicians’ shadows on the screen instead of focusing on them), at least there isn’t the MTV-like rapid-fire flitting from one angle to the next every few seconds. Mulligan does get annoyed with the audio technician when he has difficulty with the microphone announcing the first song, though the problem is quickly corrected. The baritonist’s intricate counterpoint with trumpeter Art Farmer is magical, while the leader’s witty solos are also a highlight. Bassist Bill Crow and drummer Dave Bailey provide excellent support, while there are two audio-only tracks as a bonus. (by Ken Dryden)

Recorded on 19th July 1959 in the Teatro Adriano, Rome

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Personnel:
Dave Bailey (drums)
Bill Crow (bass)
Art Farmer (trumpet)
Gerry Mulligan (saxophone, piano on 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. Announcement 1.12
02. Catch As Catch Can (Mulligan) 6.20
03. Walkin’ Shoes (Mulligan) 7.05
04. Baubles, Bangles And Beads (Wright/Forrest) 5.48
05. Just In Time (Green/Comden/Styne) 5.53
06. I Can’t Get Started (Gershwin/Duke) 8.04
07. News From Newport (Blackburn/Suessdorf) 8.39
08. Moonlight In Vermont (Blackburn/Suessdorf) 8.26
09. Spring Is Sprung (Mulligan)
10. Utter Chaos (Mulligan) 4.24

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James Brown And The Famous Flames – Try Me (1959)

FrontCover1.jpgJames Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, musician, record producer and bandleader. A progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th century popular music and dance, he is often referred to as the “Godfather of Soul”. In a career that lasted 50 years, he influenced the development of several music genres.

Brown began his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia. He joined an R&B vocal group, the Gospel Starlighters (which later evolved into the Flames) founded by Bobby Byrd, in which he was the lead singer. First coming to national public attention in the late 1950s as a member of the singing group The Famous Flames with the hit ballads “Please, Please, Please” and “Try Me”, Brown built a reputation as a tireless live performer with the Famous Flames and his backing band, sometimes known as the James Brown Band or the James Brown Orchestra (by wikipedia)

And here´s the very young James Brown:

When James Brown and His Famous Flames finally scored a second hit with their 11th single, “Try Me,” King Records constructed this 16-track LP, including the hit along with both sides of three of its follow-ups, “I Want You So Bad”/”There Must Be a Reason,” “I’ve Got to Change”/”It Hurts to Tell You,” and “Got to Cry”/”It Was You”; the B-side of a fourth follow-up, “Don’t Let It Happen to Me”; the 1957 single “Can’t Be the Same”/”Gonna Try”; the 1957 B-sides “I Won’t Plead No More” and “Messing With the Blues”; the B-side of Brown’s first hit (“Please Please Please”), “Why Do You Do Me”; and three other stray tracks. The earliest work especially sounded more like that of a doo wop group rather than that of a gritty R&B solo singer. None of it measured up to “Try Me,” but you could see what Brown had been aiming at, and if the set list comprised what were in effect James Brown’s greatest flops, circa 1959, it demonstrated that he possessed as much promise as fervor. (Try Me! was reissued in 1964 under the title The Unbeatable James Brown: 16 Hits.) (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
James Brown (vocals)
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Edwyn Conley (bass)
C. Davis (saxophone)
George Dorsey (saxophone)
Ray Felder (saxophone)
Panama Francis (drums)
Alvin “Fats” Gonder (piano)
Edison Gore (drums)
Reginald Hall (drums)
Ernie Hayes (piano)
Nat Kendrick (drums)
Clarence Mack (bass)
Louis Madison (piano, background vocals)
Bernard Odum (bass)
Carl Pruitt (bass)
Bobby Roach (guitar)
Clifford Scott (saxophone)
Nafloyd Scott (guitar)
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background vocals:
Bobby Byrd – Bill Hollings – Sylvester Keels – Wilbert Smith – Johnny Terry

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Tracklist:
01. There Must Be A Reason (Brown) 2.29
02. I Want You So Bad (Brown) 2.48
03. Why Do You Do Me (Byrd/Keels) 3.02
04. Got To Cry (Brown) 2.39
05. Strange Things Happen (Hawkins/Love/Melcher) 2.12
06. Fine Old Foxy Self (Brown) 2.11
07. Messing With The Blues (Hunt) 2.13
08. Try Me (Brown) 2.35
09. It Was You (Brown) 2.45
10. I’ve Got To Change (Brown) 2.28
11. Can’t Be The Same (Brown) 2.22
12. It Hurts To Tell You (Brown/Shubert) 2.55
13. I Won’t Plead No More (Byrd/Keels) 2.29
14. You’re Mine, You’re Mine (Brown/Scott) 2.34
15. Gonna Try (Brown) 2.47
16. Don’t Let It Happen To Me (Brown) 2.50

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Billie Holiday – Same (Last Recording) (1959)

FrontCover1Last Recording, originally titled Billie Holiday before her death, is the last album of Billie Holiday released in 1959, five years after the original album titled Billie Holiday was released.

After the success of her album, Lady in Satin (1958), Billie Holiday wanted to record another album with arranger Ray Ellis. Ellis had switched from Columbia to MGM, so Billie switched labels also to avoid breaching her contract with Columbia. When she returned to the studio in March 1959, jazz critic and friend of Holiday’s Leonard Feather, said Holiday “walked into the studio statuesque and sharp as ever.”

Unlike Lady in Satin, Billie Holiday had a lighter string orchestra, minus the choir, and more horns, including a saxophone and a more jazz like feeling. It also demand less fanfare. Songs like “All of You”, “‘Deed I Do”, and “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home” have a lighter and happier tempo and do not include strings.

Holiday told Ellis she wanted to “sound like Sinatra” on this album; but she was in such poor health from years of difficulty and substance abuse that a nurse sometimes had to help keep her propped up on a high stool as she sang.

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During the time of recording Billie Holiday, Holiday’s health was taking its toll. Some say that she did not look like herself at all, and looked like a ghost of what she once was.

In the song “There’ll Be Some Changes Made”, Holiday replaces the name Jack Benny in the lyric “Even Jack Benny has been changin’ his jokes” to Frank Sinatra, her jazz friend.

The album was completed on March 11, 1959. Four days later, Billie Holiday’s lifelong friend and music partner Lester Young died on March 15, 1959. She would die four months later on July 17, 1959 at the age of 44.

Allmusic music critic Ron Wynn gave the album one and half stars out of five stating, “In many ways, a sad event… It’s poignant in a tragic way.”

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By 1959, use of hard drugs and alcohol had taken their toll on Holiday’s voice. It is evident that her voice had deteriorated since her previous album Lady in Satin. Producer and arranger Ray Ellis said that the producers “accidentally” adjusted the speed at 1/4 pitch faster in the studio making Holiday’s voice high pitched in some songs like “You Took Advantage of Me”. (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Billie Holiday (vocals)
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Ray Ellis & His Orchestra:
Danny Bank (Saxophone)
Billy Byers (trombone)
Al Cohn (saxophone)
Harry Edison (trumpet)
Joe Wilder (trumpet)
Barry Galbraith (guitar)
Milt Hinton (bass)
Osie Johnson (drums)
Hank Jones (piano)
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unknown string section

Arranged and conducted by Ray Ellis

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Tracklist:
01. All Of You (Porter) 2.30
02. Sometimes I’m Happy Caesar/Gray/Youmans) 2.46
03. You Took Advantage Of Me (Rodgers/Hart) 2.46
04. When It’s Sleepy Time Down South (L.René/O.René/Muse) 4.04
05. There’ll Be Some Changes Made” – (W. Benton Overstreet, Billy Higgins) – 2:52
06. ‘Deed I Do – (Walter Hirsch, Fred Rose) – 2:14
07. Don’t Worry ’bout Me (Koehler/Bloom) 3.08
08. All The Way (Cahn/van Heusen) .22
09. Just One More Chance (Coslow/Johnston) 3.43
10. It’s Not For Me To Say (Stillman/Allen) 2.25
11. I’ll Never Smile Again (Lowe) 3.23
12. Baby Won’t You Please Come Home (Warfield/Williams) 3.03

 

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Taken from the original liner notes

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Billie Holiday (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959)

Barbara – Barbara a l’écluse (1959)

FrontCover1Monique Andrée Serf (June 9, 1930 – November 24, 1997), whose stage name was Barbara, was a French singer. She took her stage name from her grandmother, Varvara Brodsky, a native of Odessa, Russian Empire (now Ukraine). Her song “L’Aigle noir” sold 1 million copies in twelve hours.

Born in Paris to a Jewish family, Barbara was ten years old when she had to go into hiding during the German occupation of France in World War II. After the war ended, a neighborhood professor of music heard her sing and took an interest in helping her develop her talents. She was given vocal lessons and taught to play the piano, and eventually she enrolled at the Ecole Supérieure de Musique. Money was a problem and she gave up her musical studies to sing at “La Fontaine des Quatre Saisons,” a popular cabaret in Paris.

She was deeply scarred by the war and her family’s plight. The feelings of emptiness experienced during childhood showed in her songs, particularly “Mon Enfance”. She said in her uncompleted autobiography, Il était un piano noir (assembled from notes found after her death), that her father sexually abused her when she was ten and she hated him for that. He later abandoned the family.

Barbara06A tall person, Barbara dressed in black as she sang melancholy songs of lost love. From 1950 to 1952, after her father’s desertion of her family, she lived in Brussels, where she became part of an active artistic community. Her painter and writer friends took over an old house, converting it into workshops and a concert hall with a piano where she performed the songs of Édith Piaf, Juliette Gréco and Germaine Montero. However, her career evolved slowly and she struggled constantly to eke out a living.

Returning to Paris, she met Jacques Brel and became a lifelong friend, singing many of his songs. Later she met Georges Brassens, whose songs she began to use in her act and to record on her first album. In the 1950s, she sang at some of the smaller clubs and began building a fan base, particularly with the young students from the Latin Quarter. In 1957, she went back to Brussels to record her first single, but it was not until 1961 that she got a real break when she sang at the Bobino Music-Hall in Montparnasse. Dressed in a long black robe, she gave a haunting performance, but the Parisian critics said she lacked naturalness and was stiff and formal in her presentation. She continued to perform at small clubs, and two years later at the Théâtre des Capucines she succeeded with the audience and critics alike, singing new material she had written herself. From that point on, her career blossomed and she signed a major recording contract in 1964 with Philips Records.

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Influenced originally by songwriters Mireille and Pierre MacOrlan, she developed her own style and the writing of her own songs transformed her image into that of a unique singer-songwriter. In the 1960s, she wrote her landmark song, “Ma plus belle histoire d’amour c’est vous” (“My Most Beautiful Love Story Is You”), and others for which she remains famous such as “L’aigle noir”, “Nantes”, “La solitude”, “Göttingen” and “Une petite cantate.” These five songs plus “Dis, quand reviendras-tu?” were translated into German by Belgian-German singer-songwriter Didier Caesar. The song “Göttingen” (named after the German city of Göttingen) is said to have contributed more to post-war German–French reconciliation than any speech by a politician. On the 40th anniversary of the Elysée agreement, ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder quoted from the song in his official speech in the Château de Versailles.

She returned to Bobino in 1964 for several sold-out performances. She performed at the Paris Olympia and other important venues in France, becoming one of her country’s most beloved stars. In 1965, she released the album Barbara chante Barbara, which became a critical and financial success, winning the Grand Prix du Disque of the Charles Cros Academy. At the award ceremony, Barbara tore her award into several pieces, giving a piece to each of her technicians as a sign of her gratitude.

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In 1969, she wrote the theme song “Moi, je me balance” for the film “La fiancée du pirate”. She announced that she would limit her concert singing, and in 1970 she made her acting début in the stage play Madame that proved to be a commercial flop. In 1971 she co-starred with Jacques Brel in a film he directed titled Franz. Two years later she starred in L’Oiseau rare directed by Jean-Claude Brialy. Her final film role came in 1975 in Je suis né à Venise by choreographer Maurice Béjart.

Barbara’s career remained active in the 1970s, with appearances on television variety shows with stars such as Johnny Hallyday and a tour of Japan, Canada, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Through the 1980s, she continued to tour and to write songs; her album Seule was one of France’s top grossing releases of 1981. The next year she was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque in recognition of her contribution to French culture. She developed a close working relationship with rising film star Gérard Depardieu and his wife Élisabeth, collaborating on songs for film and records. In 1986 she went to New York City to perform on piano at the Metropolitan Opera with Mikhail Baryshnikov in a song and dance ballet presentation. She co-wrote the music for the stage play Lily Passion with Luc Plamondon, in which she co-starred with Depardieu. It told the story of a killer who murders someone each time he hears her sing.

In the latter part of the 1980s she became active in the fight against AIDS. She recorded SID’Amour à mort and gave out condoms at performances. In 1988 the government of France awarded her the Legion of Honour. Health problems impeded her performing and she began to devote time to the writing of her memoirs. However, she recorded another successful album in 1996—which sold over a million copies in twelve hours—before she died of respiratory problems in Neuilly-sur-Seine (a suburb of Paris), on November 24, 1997. She was interred in the family grave at the Cimetière de Bagneux in southwest Paris.

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In October 1953 she married Claude John Luc Sluys, a Belgian law student, but they separated in 1956. She wrote many very personal songs, “Nantes” about her father, “Une petite cantate” dedicated to her friend Liliane Bénelli, born Gnansia, who died in a car accident in 1965. Later in life, she wrote a song to her public “Ma plus belle histoire d’amour” and another about her musicians “Mes hommes”.

Barbara’s musical legacy is revealed in the writing of a number of singers, French-speaking and otherwise. A style referred to as “Nouvelle Chanson”, or “New Chanson”, artists such as Keren Ann, Benjamin Biolay, Coralie Clement, Emilie Simon, Daphné, Vincent Delerm and Tancrède are often cited as exponents of the updated style. One of the few English-speaking artists to cover her work is Marc Almond, whose version of “Amours Incestueuses” (“Incestuous Loves”) was released on his 1996 album “Absinthe”. The Anglo-French biographer David Bret, a close friend of Barbara, wrote at her behest “Les Hommes Bafoués”, a song about AIDS prejudice. Bret also adapted three of her songs, “Ma Plus Belle Histoire D’Amour”, “La Solitude”, and “Précy Jardin” into English for Barbara. These were taped in 1992, but so far have never been released. Maria del Mar Bonet, a Catalan singer made, in 1971, a cover of L’Aigle Noir in Catalan and made a success of it in Spanish-language countries. L’Aigle Noir has also been adapted and sung in Spanish, and Swedish (Rikard Wolff), and many times in Japanese, also with great success.

Rendez-vous avec : Barbara

Well-known contemporary artists such as New York based Martha Wainwright, Spanish singer-songwriter Conchita Mendivil (who both recently reprised “Dis, Quand Reviendras-tu?”, and Regina Spektor (with “Après Moi”), and London-based singer-songwriter Ana Silvera have reprised songs sung by Barbara. Marc Almond also released a version of Barbara’s “Amours incestueuses” in 1993. (by wikipedia)

This debut album was recorded live at the “L´ecuse” (a very well known traditional bar in Paris.)
And it´s such an intensive and intimate performance … one of the finest french “chanteuse” ever !

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Personnel:
Barabara (vocals, piano, accordeon)

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Tracklist:
01. La Femme D’Hector (Brassens) 2.40
02. Souvenance (Schlesser) 2.35
03. Il Nous Faut Regarder (Brel) 1.49
04. Un Monsieur Me Suis Dans La Rue (Chanois/Besse) 4.47
05. Les Amis D’Monsieur (Fragson) 2.09
06. Tais-Toi, Marseilles (Datin/Vidalin) 3.06
07. La Belle Amour (Poissonnier/Serf) 2.43
08. La Joconde (Braffort) 1.47
09. Les Sirènes (Sabouraud) 3.16

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Here´s a live performance from 1956 at the L’Écluse, Paris

Zoot Sims + Bob Brookmeyer Octet – Stretching Out (1959)

FrontCover1Stretching Out is an album by the Zoot Sims-Bob Brookmeyer Octet recorded in 1958 for the United Artists label.

Like many studio sessions recorded for United Artists, this 1958 session co-led by Zoot Sims and Bob Brookmeyer can be a bit tricky to find. Brookmeyer contributed most of the charts, including the easygoing blues which serves as the title track, as well as updated treatments of Jelly Roll Morton’s “King Porter Stomp” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Al Cohn is responsible for a swinging chart of “Pennies from Heaven” during which he switches to baritone sax, while Bill Potts wrote and arranged “Bee Kay.” The rest of the superb band includes Harry “Sweets” Edison, Hank Jones, bassist Eddie Jones, guitarist Freddie Green, and drummer Charlie Persip. Aside from a few innocuous reed squeaks, the music is essentially flawless and has stood the test of time very well. Although U.S. reissues have been sparse, Fresh Sound re-released an LP of this music and Toshiba also put out a CD edition in Japan. In any case, fans of cool jazz will want to locate a copy of this session. (by Ken Dryden)

And yes, the cover is a very nice one !

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Zoot Sims & Bob Brookmeyer

Personnel:
Bob Brookmeyer (trombone)
Al Cohn (saxophone)
Harry “Sweets” Edison (trumpet)
Freddie Green (guitar)
Eddie Jones (bass)
Hank Jones (piano)
Charlie Persip (drums)
Zoot Sims (saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. Stretching Out (Brookmeyer) 6.07
02. Now Will You Be Good? (Pease/Terker/Jentes) 5.27
03. Pennies From Heaven (Johnston/Burke) 6.14
04. King Porter Stomp (Morton) 4.37
05. Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Brooks/Waller/Razaf) 6.52
06. Bee Kay (Potts) 6.38

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Charlie Byrd – Mr. Guitar (1959)

FrontCover1Mr. Guitar is an album by American jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd featuring tracks recorded in 1960 and released on the Riverside label in 1962. The album was first released on the Washington Records Offbeat imprint as Jazz at the Showboat, Vol. 3 but only received limited distribution prior to Byrd signing with Riverside. (by wikipedia)

A delightful trio outing with an adroit and light feel, also featuring Keter Betts on bass and Bertell Knox on drums. Byrd’s playing combines jazz swing with influences from both Spanish guitar and classical music on a session comprised of both Byrd originals and covers, usually of Gershwin and Ellington tunes. Betts and Knox are both nimble players who flesh out Byrd’s arrangements without encumbering them, Knox exhibiting a deft touch on the snares in particular. Byrd swings pretty hard on numbers like “Gypsy in My Soul,” and gets more into the Spanish sound on the original “Funky Flamenco”; there is one chance for the musicians to stretch out into more space, on the six-minute “Lay the Lily Low.” It sounds like this album was a substantial influence upon the noted eclectic British folk guitarist Davy Graham, whose debut LP from the early ’60s, Guitar Player, has arrangements that are similar to much of what’s on Mr. Guitar. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Keter Betts (bass)
Charlie Byrd (guitar)
Bertell Knox (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Blues for Felix (Byrd) -2.57
02. Gypsy In My Soul (Boland/Jaffe) 2.54
03. In A Mellotone (Ellington) 3.13
05. Prelude To A Kiss (Ellington/Gordon/Mills) 4.43
06. Travelin’ On (Byrd) 2.34
07. Play Fiddle, Play (Altman/Deutsch/Lawrence) 3.35
08. Funky Flamenco (Byrd) 2.49
09. My One And Only (Gershwin) 2.41
10. Mama, I’ll Be Home Some Day (Byrd) 3.11
11. How Long Has This Been Going On? (Gershwin) 3.41
12. Who Cares? (Gershwin) 2.12
13. Lay The Lily Low (Byrd) 5.54

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