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by Seth Colter Walls

February 11, 2014

101 | Jazz

(Real) Jazz for Lovers

by Seth Colter Walls  |  February 11, 2014

Record labels know that various sounds endemic to jazz -- such as a tenor sax moan, a come-hither vocal or some suave piano playing -- can be re-sellable as aphrodisiacs. Though in most cases, your average "jazz for lovers" compilation CD suffers for, well, not having the rights to the most persuasive love calls. So instead of Coltrane's serenade to his first wife ("Naima") or Monk's tribute to his first crush ("Ruby, My Dear"), what you get are some weak smooth-jazz approximations of ardor. We've fixed that problem in this mix, which draws from classic albums. Click on the attached playlist, and you'll hear not only Trane and Monk individually, but also their collaborative, Live at Carnegie Hall take on "Crepuscule with Nellie" (titled in honor of the pianist's wife).

Keep listening for Miles Davis' flirtatious outings with tunes such as "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed (By Anyone but You)" and "Summertime." And we'd be remiss if we didn't include Duke Ellington's classic "Mood Indigo" in perhaps its moodiest, most indulgent take ever (a full 15 minutes, with a vocalist, from the Masterpieces by Ellington LP). Bassist-composer Charles Mingus certainly learned a bit from the Duke's romantic tone-poem, as you can hear on the libidinous "Celia" or on two rambunctious pieces from his Changes LPs, issued in the mid-'70s. "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Silk Blue" depicts a romance in all its kaleidoscopic glory, while "Sue's Changes" tries to do justice to the complexity of Mingus' most important love.

We've rounded out our mix with some fine declarations by vocalists: Lady Day, Ella, Nina Simone and Tony Bennett are all here. And Coleman Hawkins' "Body and Soul" and Charlie Parker's "Embraceable You" show how early soloists competed with vocalists when it came to talking love's language. Naturally, Louis Armstrong takes care of both vocals and instrumental fireworks on his "Sweethearts on Parade." So click play and enjoy!

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