Etta Jones had been singing for years, but it was this 1960 release, her first for Prestige, that helped establish her as a top-notch jazz singer.
The album is highlighted by the remarkable title track, a perfect marriage of singer and song if there ever was one. With Jones hitting all the right musical and emotional notes on the ballad, "Don’t Go To Strangers" made it on to the pop charts and climbed as high as No. 5 on the R&B charts. Listen to the way that Jones, a Southerner, extends the last word of each line and how she effortlessly drops her voice on the last syllable of the word "stranger." The longing she conveys is palpable.
Although the single remains the album’s standout, the quality remains high on the other nine tracks, a sign of the singer's consistency and good taste in selecting a set of timeless numbers.
Recorded in a single session, the album benefits from having several veteran players: Frank Wess, Richard Wyands, Skeeter Best, George Duvivier, and Roy Haynes. They deliver some tasty solos throughout the album.
In addition to "Don’t Go To Strangers," the album features several more ballads, including Jones’ tender performance of "All The Way" and "Fine and Mellow."
A more playful side comes out on the ebullient "I Love Paris," which is given a bit of a Latin feel. There’s also a bluesy treatment of "Bye Bye Blackbird." Other singers have done graceful versions of this well-traveled song, but Jones and Wess, who launches into a fine flute solo, make this number their own. Under their wing, the bittersweet song is all sweet.
There’s not a weak moment on Don’t Go To Strangers.