168: Neal Hefti, ‘Girl Talk’

Women are a superior breed to men, but everyone from God to James Thurber knows they sure like to talk. Girl Talk.
I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.

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139: The Swingle Singers, ‘On the 4th of July’ (James Taylor)

This week we talk about the United States’ bar mitzvah, how we discovered Bach, the history of The Swingle Singers, the marvels of Scandinavian a cappella festivals, and older people falling in love.

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169: The Mills Brothers, ‘Jungle Fever’

Four Boys and a Guitar. The Mills Brothers sounded so much like a jazz band back in the early 1930s that the company wrote on their record labels “No musical instruments or mechanical devices used on this recording other than one guitar.” And they sang great scat, and great tight harmonies. And they had class, In abundance.

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148: Andy Williams, ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’

We all have our weaknesses. For some it’s wine, for some it’s cocaine, for some it’s merely nostalgia. Two gifts from Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer, as presented by Andy Williams–‘Moon River’, and especially ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’,

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138: Eliane Elias, ‘Baubles, Bangles and Beads’

I can’t think of a single reason why Brazilian/American jazz/bossanova pianist/singer Eliane Elias isn’t a household name – she is a serious musician, outstandingly talented, commercially appealing, and uncommonly pleasing to look at.

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033: Radka Toneff, ‘The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress’ (Jimmy Webb)

You’ve never heard of the Norwegian singer Radka Toneff. Trust me, it’s your loss.
Listen to her sing Jim Webb’s ‘The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress’. Tell me you weren’t moved.

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287: Moses Sumney, ‘Incantation’

Moses Sumney is the best vocalist I’ve ever heard.
And you know I NEVER exaggerate.

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105: The Boswell Sisters, ‘Crazy People’

The Boswell Sisters had 20 hits in the early 1930s, and are arguably THE best vocal jazz group ever. Their 3-part harmonies are tighter than Aunt Bertha’s girdle, and their arrangements are constantly chock full of unexpected shifts in tempo, major/minor mode, key, and tone, flipping cheekily from dead serious to insouciant comic and back. They have a wicked and sometimes rather racy sense of humor. Their vocals are so hot they were often thought to be black. They scat with the best of them, and do knock-out imitations of instruments and nonsense sounds. A pleasure and an education, 80 years on.

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