"Good Night, and Good Luck"

Concord Jazz


"And So Is Love"

Concord Jazz

Was casting Dianne Reeves as a sultry jazz singer in the McCarthy-era political drama "Good Night, and Good Luck" an inspired choice by actor-director George Clooney? Or was it an easy decision? Both, it would seem, for Reeves is not only capable of effortlessly evoking the jazz scene of a half-century ago, as she proves on screen, her devotion to Sarah Vaughan and other legendary jazz vocalists who recorded in the '50s is no secret.

Clooney deserves full credit, though, for choosing the songs Reeves performs on this soundtrack CD, which features numbers recorded by his aunt, the late, great pop singer Rosemary Clooney. Bracketed by a strolling rendition of "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and the intimate pairing of Reeves and bassist Robert Hurst on the album's after-hours coda, "One for My Baby," the list of tunes is chockablock with standards that haven't been part of Reeves's repertoire until now. "You're Driving Me Crazy" and "TV Is the Thing This Year" emphasize swing or a brassy shade of blues, but nearly all the highlights find Reeves, saxophonist Matt Catingub and a small combo conjuring dreamy and soulful moods while dusting off "How High the Moon" "Solitude" and "Pretend" or unveiling the newly composed and thoroughly evocative ballad "Who's Minding the Store?"

Singer Rita Coolidge, who is touring with Reeves in a tribute to Billie Holiday this fall, recently released her first jazz combo collaboration, "And So Is Love." It's a surprisingly charming, if not always surefooted, debut, a chance for Coolidge to salute her lifelong inspiration, Peggy Lee, and perform songs by everyone from Harold Arlen to Boz Scaggs. Though Coolidge doesn't possess much in the way of harmonic agility, her contralto, with its bluesy tinge, is well suited to "Cry Me a River," "Don't Go to Strangers" and other ballads. Providing subdued support are several well-known jazz artists and Coolidge's former label head, trumpeter Herb Alpert.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Saturday at the Kennedy Center.