October of 2008 already saw a Best of Annie Lennox hit the streets in Europe, and in early 2009 those of us Stateside get the Annie Lennox Collection, which boasts enough hit singles to keep the punters happy, as well as a few keen B-sides to make the late-coming collectors to Lennox's work pick this up as well. While ubiquitous hits such as "Walking on Broken Glass" and "Sing" are included here, it's great that the set's compilers thought to add non-full-length selections such as "Love Song for a Vampire" to this mix. Her stellar covers such as the reading of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and the Freeman-Hughes standard "No More "I Love You's" are in the mix as well, making this a very well-rounded collection.
Pete's first solo album for Gramavision was a tribute to Gil Evans, with whom Pete worked for 15 years. Much of the album is performed by an 8-piece all-star band - all alumni of the freewheeling Gil Evans Monday Night Orchestra.
Though her career stretched from the '30s to the '80s and she's widely considered possibly the greatest female jazz singer or all time, Ella Fitzgerald will probably forever be best known for a mid-'50s collection of albums collectively called the Songbooks, where she devoted entire albums to the works of such composers as Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and Duke Ellington. THE BEST OF THE SONGBOOKS: THE BALLADS is one of the many compilations based on these recordings, and one of the best. From its beautiful, informative packaging to its gorgeously remastered sound, this 16-track, 64-minute collection treats the material with the respect it deserves. The material, of course, is first-rate, wall-to-wall standards from Johnny Mercer's wistful "Laura" to Ellington's sly "Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me." Fitzgerald's performances are equally outstanding, as are the mostly big-band arrangements. This is as good as jazz ballad collections get.