Besides appearing in a series of television commercials that have made her name virtually synonymous with bathroom tissue, Rosemary Clooney has spent the last few years recording several excellent albums. Given her big-band credentials, which include a stint with Duke Ellington in 1957, it would seem only natural for Clooney to record now with one of the few remaining big-band bosses -- Woody Herman.
Why it hasn't happened before is anyone's guess, for Clooney and Herman indeed turn out to be musical pals on "My Buddy," as they share a program that balances contemporary tunes (Kenny Loggins' "I Believe in Love," James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight") with vintage material (Billy Hill's "The Glory of Love," Ellington's "I'm Beginning to See the Light").
Make no mistake; Clooney isn't a jazz stylist. Ever mindful of the lyric, she hews to the melody and delivers her songs with a minimum of fuss. When the mood calls for it, she swings with grace and feeling, but more often she simply lets Herman's young herd have its say.
And why not? All the arrangements are designed to allow at least one soloist the chance to shine, including Herman, so that before the album draws to a satisfying close the instrumental depth of the band is fully revealed. Singer and bandleader alike can be proud of this one. ROSEMARY CLOONEY/WOODY HERMAN -- "My Buddy" (Concord Jazz CJ 226); Clooney appearing with Scott Hamilton at Charlie's Georgetown Friday through Sunday.