This album of vintage recordings of Cole Porter songs mixes eight of Porter's own performances of his compositions with renditions that were hits when the songs were new. The basic selection criterion is revealed in the album's title; there is an emphasis placed here on Porter's more risqué and provocative numbers. Songs like "Let's Misbehave" (in a version by Irving Aaronson & His Commanders that was the equivalent of a Top Ten hit in 1928) and "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" (even in this prim rendering by Rudy Vallée) leave nothing to the imagination, of course. "Love for Sale" (by Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians) is clearly about prostitution, "Miss Otis Regrets" (by Ethel Waters) is a tale of jealousy and murder, and "Find Me a Primitive Man" (by Lee Wiley) is about the attraction of animal lust.
These two 1975-1976 LPs reunited on 1 CD are to say the least very enjoyable. This is not the usual songbook devoted to the composer. Grappelli manages to play with those Porter tunes and ends up winning in the process to make them sounds his own with his instrument. It's a good example of the way a musician can pay tribute to a composer and let his personnality express his true musicianship, without losing grip of the general focus of the project.
As the repository of the earliest phase of Frank Sinatra's solo career, 1943-1952, Columbia Records is usually thought to be at a disadvantage against the more accomplished work the singer recorded for Capitol Records and his own Reprise imprint. But in two albums released on the same day in 2003, Sinatra Sings Cole Porter and Sinatra Sings Gershwin, Columbia's Legacy division expands on its studio recordings of Sinatra by borrowing airchecks from the collection of Charles L. Granata, and thereby improves its holdings. Sinatra would not seem at first blush to be the ideal interpreter of Porter, if only because his rough-and-tumble background is always visible beneath his careful intonation, while Porter's lyrics are redolent of wealth and comic condescension. But Sinatra sang "Night and Day" in his first solo session in 1942 and went on to perform Porter throughout his career, often achieving near-definitive readings. The ground on which they met was intellectual rather than social: Porter was at heart a wit, and Sinatra understood the jokes, while emphasizing what emotional content there was, giving it a greater sincerity than the songwriter might have intended. This collection effectively mixes a bunch of studio recordings with previously unreleased radio performances that find Sinatra ranging over many different Porter moods.
Originally released on Atlantic as Ella Loves Cole and then reissued on Pablo with two extra cuts from 1978, this set features the great Ella Fitzgerald (still in excellent form) backed by an orchestra arranged by Nelson Riddle performing an extensive set of Cole Porter songs. Fifteen years earlier Fitzgerald had had great success with her Cole Porter Songbook and this date, even with a few hokey arrangements, almost reaches the same level. Trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison and pianist Tommy Flanagan are among the supporting cast. Highlights include "I Get a Kick out of You," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "All of You," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "Just One of Those Things."
Sonny Criss plays Cole Porter – and the results are way greater than the sum of the parts – even though those parts are already pretty darn great! Criss' alto sax has a superb tone at this time – razor-sharp, and nicely crisp – yet still filled with warmth that sets it apart from some of his more modern contemporaries – a beautiful balance that really illuminates these tunes, and has you thinking of them as fresh Criss compositions, not older Porter standards. The instrumentation is quite fresh, too – thanks to the addition of Larry Bunker on vibes, which is a really nice surprise – and piano by Sonny Clark and Jimmy Bunn. The great Lawrence Marable plays drums – and titles include "I Love You", "Easy To Love", "Night & Day", and "Love For Sale".