Pan American Airways was one of the leading airlines in the world from its inception during 1927 until its dissolution during 1991. The airline has recently been resurrected as a TV series. Pan Am follows the adventures of an early 1960s flight crew as they fly the skies. Whether the series will be successful or renewed is still up in the air.
Pan Am: Music from and Inspired by the Original Series will be released on January 17 by the Verve Music Group. I have only seen a couple of episodes, and to be fair my wife had control of the channel changer. While music plays a part in the story, it does not dominate. Therefore music that has not been used in the series was added and the “inspired by” was added to the album’s title.
What we are left with is a stand-alone album so it is not necessary to watch or be familiar with the series to enjoy the music. Most of the tracks fall into a light jazz style. Even such tracks as “Call Me Irresponsible” by Bobby Darin and “Quando Quando Quando” by Connie Francis fit into the overall feel of the album. The only song that veers from the norm is the old 1962 Brenda Lee hit “Break It To Me Gently,” which is such an enjoyable song it really does not matter.
The album has a number of highlights. “The Girl From Ipanema” is a song that never gets old. Astrud Gilberto’s vocal is one of the more memorable in music history and is always an album standout. Ella Fitzgerald’s “Blue Skies” and Count Basie’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You” were both taken from the Verve vaults and are examples of vocal jazz and big band swing jazz at their best. “New York City Blues” by Peggy Lee, “Mais Que Nada” by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, and “Just One More Chance” by Billie Holiday are smooth and easy listens.
Pan Am: Music from and Inspired by the Original Series does not break any new ground. It is, however, an album that will lull and enchant the listener as the songs will take you up and away for a while, and in today’s age that is enough.