Ann-Margret & Al Hirt

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  • Ann-Margret & Al Hirt - Personalities – The Velvet Lounge (CD)


    ”The ’Velvet Lounge’ is a remarkable series of re-releases dedicated to music that is always elegant and entertaining

    – and sometimes even exotic. The series is a comfortable and welcoming home for treasures from the fabulous Fifties

    and the strange Sixties. It is a mark of quality placed on music we’ve rediscovered from long ago and far away,

    from a time and place between Rock and Beat ecstasy and psychedelic populism.

    This newest addition to the BEAR FAMILY contains music that comes straight from the archives of both large and

    small record companies, and is re-mastered to BEAR FAMILY’s excellent quality, normally as a direct digitalisation of

    a master-tape but always with the best possible sound. What you hear is what you get, and the listener is tempted

    in by this music, asked to relax and savour the music, while maybe putting up their feet and slowly stirring a

    long drink.

    And who you hear is important; the artists’ names alone make for a formidable series. Eartha Kitt, ”the most exciting

    woman in the world” according to Orson Welles, does her purring ’thang’ on the album ’St. Louis Blues’,

    alongside legendary West-Coast-trumpeter Milton ’Shorty’ Rogers and an extravagantly exciting and highly entertaining

    blues program. And then on the album ’Personalities’ another trumpeter Al ’Jumbo’ Hirt dedicates himself

    to a sort of ’symbolization in sound’ of sex-bomb Ann-Margret, some twenty years his junior, on songs like My

    Baby Just Cares For Me or Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Despite numerical evidence to the contrary, ’jazz’ was not a four

    letter word back then, and even ’entertainment’ did not smell funny, yet. The motto was ”anything goes” rather

    than ”is that allowed?” This artistic free-for-all and high quality craftsmanship produced songs that had every right

    to be called ’standards’. Artist-arrangers likeMarty Paich or Juan Esquivel, for instance, not only showcased the abilities

    of some of the best studio musicians of their time, but also the songwriters.

    The ’Velvet Lounge’ engages more than the ears, though. You’ll need your stomach muscles, at least those involved

    in extensive laughter. On ’What Were They Thinking?’ – an overdue compilation with all kinds of ’Odd Couples’

    – pleasure becomes a principle and the absurd gets to be ordinary. Country stars meet Exotica heroes or Easy

    Listening troubadours. Pop crooners like Perry Como are coupled with the Sons Of The Pioneers, and even Lotte

    Lenya, Kurt Weill’s wife and Bertolt Brecht’s favorite mime, gets to share some hilarious studio-time with the sensational

    Louis Armstrong.

    Because the ’Velvet Lounge’ series comes under the BEAR FAMILY banner, it is a given that the graphic design is perfectly

    fitting and fittingly perfect, featuring rare original photographs, exact discographies, and extensive liner

    notes. Everything about this series has a touch of exuberance and luxury. Everyone from the collecting specialist

    to the cultural crusader can feel most welcome and at home in this ’Velvet Lounge’.”

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