Julie London ‘Your Number Please’ / ‘Julie at Home’ (Fine and Mellow) 4/5

julie-londonFormerly a model, but enjoying a second career as a singer with jazzy inflections to both mass and critical acclaim, chanteuse Julie London seemingly arrived from nowhere and laid down some of the most enduring late night music of the 1950s and beyond. This CD pairs two of her albums with contrasting accompaniment that serve as an ideal illustration of how gifted a performer London was in both intimate and larger-scale musical surroundings. The second of the two albums, from 1960, is the strongest with a distinctive west coast jazz vibe and captures to perfection London in late evening jazz mood with a stellar line-up of Al Viola on guitar, Jimmy Rowles on piano, Emil Richards on vibes and Don Bagley on bass, not forgetting the trombone of Bob Flanagan. The album is full of classily interpreted romantic standards from the great American songbook of the calibre of ‘You’d be so nice to come home to’, a sumptuous ‘Round Midnight’ and ‘You stepped out of a dream’, which might just be the most apt way to describe London from a strictly male perspective.A gently carousing take on ‘The thrill is gone’ is a million miles from the blues drenched B.B. King version, but one imagines he might have approved of this. Viewed as a whole this album has become something of a favourite among London cognoscenti. The second album, features a large band arranged and conducted by André Previn, with an iconic photo of the singer. It builds on the reputation Julie London immediately established with the 1955 hit single, ‘Cry me a river’, and once again a deeply romantic repertoire that were imbued with London’s utterly personal approach. A fine re-issue and everyone should own at least one Julie London album in their collection, but this value for money set enables you to own two.

Tim Stenhouse