Jazz Vocals

The Perfect Date Music

12 FEB 09 ANNE FARNSWORTH

Even before our current fiscal lockdown, I believed Valentine's Day was best celebrated at home. A candlelit meal à deux, slurpy things like oysters and chocolate-dipped strawberries, a bottle of champagne and the most romantic music in the world spinning in the background. Here are some suggestions for your special date.

Matt Damon's titular Talented Mr. Ripley was a master of mimicry. Jazz fans loved hearing him channel Chet Baker in the nightclub scene. For the real thing, check out "I'm Old Fashioned" from The Art Of The Ballad. Baker's soft tenor and wounded vulnerability echo the hopes and fears in all lovers.

Sarah Vaughan had it all. Like the greatest horn players, she could soar over heart-stopping tempos or heat up a torch song. The English lyrics of Ivan Lins' stunning "The Island," from the album Crazy And Mixed Up, are scorching. Sex for grownups.

Speaking of sex, Joe Williams' rich baritone and effortless swing wowed the ladies for decades. One of my all-time favorite albums is Joe Williams Live, featuring Williams in an intimate club setting with Cannonball Adderley's all-star band. "Tell Me Where To Scratch" is vintage Joe -- sly, witty and completely in charge.

The warmth of Mel Tormé's voice wraps you up like cashmere. Mel Tormé & George Shearing's The Complete Concord Recordings is an astonishing 7-CD collection. Nearly impossible to pick just one cut but when it comes to new love, "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" pretty much says it all.

Tierney Sutton digs deep inside a lyric, her expressive voice full of joy and heartbreak. With a sultry Latin groove, "Comes Love," from Something Cool, cautions yet simultaneously celebrates love's potential.

And finally Mark Murphy, another hard-bopper who knows how to throw down a slow jam, sings of love from the perspective of a life lived fully and without reservation. "Love Dance", from his recent Night Mood, is another Ivan Lins import with amazing English lyrics -- hot, dreamy and just right for your romantic evening.

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    The Island

    Sarah Vaughan, from Crazy And Mixed Up

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    Tell Me Where To Scratch (I Want To Love You ...

    Joe Williams, from Live

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    You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To

    Torme & Shearing, from The Complete ...

in this playlist.