In the category of albums that can’t please all jazz fans all of the time, the new compilation from Justin Time Records, Fifteen Shades of Blue, comes very close to the exception that proves the rule, certainly when it comes to jazz lovers north of the U.S. border (and most likely those south as well). After all, an album that includes revered artists like Diana Krall, Hank Jones, and Oscar Peterson, and spotlights the voices of the newer generation as well, has a lot going for it. Showcasing a wealth of fine artists in signature performances is about as likely a formula for success as a record company could wish for.
The music, we are told, was selected under the rather general rubric of tunes likely to put listeners in the mood for romance, and although there might be a question or two about how well some of the tracks fit the theme, there is no question about the quality of the music and its performance. Standard or original composition, vocal or instrumental, uptempo or ballad, every track whets the appetite for more from the artist. And if that’s the measure of the compilation’s success, and one would suspect that as far as Justin Time is concerned, it is—Fifteen Shades of Blue is a smash hit.
It opens with one of its greatest strengths, Diana Krall’s swinging version of the Rodgers and Hart classic, “This Can’t Be Love.” Both her vocal and her piano work are dazzling. The second track echoes the swinging Rodgers and Hart theme with saxophonist Fraser MacPherson’s rendition of “You Took Advantage of Me.” The songwriting duo’s music is reprised later in the album in pianist Taurey Butler’s witty romp through “The Lady is a Tramp.”
Other vocals on the disc include Ranee Lee’s “When a Woman Loves a Man,” Carol Welsman’s “Hold Me,” and Carmen Lundy’s “This is the End of a Love Affair.” Susie Arioli adds a stylish version of “Foolin’ Myself.” Johnny O’Neal contributes the lone male vocal with “Why Try and Change Me Now.” The jazz-pop stylings of St. Ange, fronted by the haunting voice of singer Angela Galuppo, are represented by “I Could Almost Love You” from their debut album, Second Nature.
Oliver Jones is joined by classical violinist Josee Aidans in “Lady Be Good” from their album, Just For My Lady. Although I had some reservations about Aidans not doing her own improvising in my review of the original disc, I have few about the product of the collaboration. There is an absolutely gorgeous take on “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” from the Rob McConnell Tentet.
The album closes with Paul Bley’s solo piano performance of “Pleasing You,” certainly a fitting conclusion. I was pleased, you will be too.