The great-but-totally-unpretentious Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002) is generally thought of as having had two singing careers: a semi-schlocky pop period in the ’50s under the thumb of Columbia’s svengali Mitch Miller, typified by the megahit “Come On-a My House” (with lyrics, perplexingly, by playwright William Saroyan), and then after a lengthy hiatus to raise a family, she returned in the ’70s to become a highly respected jazz singer working with small ensembles for the rest of her life.
The thing is, she never really changed: there was always jazz in her pop, and later, pop in her jazz. The new collection Rosemary Clooney Jazz Singer is culled from her Columbia years and is essentially popular standards with jazz credibility, with a goodly dollop of Ellington thrown in.
Her slightly-husky no-nonsense voice is beautiful in its simplicity and clarity, never showy, always true to the song. If you are unfamiliar with Clooney, this is an excellent place to start your familiarization (with the slight caveat of some cheesy ’50s-style background vocals).