I own only three soundtrack recordings. Two are Henry Mancini scores for "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Two For the Road" which reflect my respect for Mancini and my long love affair (from afar) with Audrey Hepburn. The third is "Alfie" with compositions by Sonny Rollins conducted by Oliver Nelson. That one was for the music. I suspect that most soundtracks are purchased only as a memento of the movie. Now I haven't seen "Kissing Jessica Stein." About all I know is that it is a romantic comedy and Roger Ebert likes it. It does seem, however, that this soundtrack can stand on its own. (This should not be surprising as the 2002 definition of "soundtrack" is "music from and inspired by the motion picture" at least in this case.)
The album is a compilation of lightly swinging ballads, many from Verve's releases of the fifties, with an emphasis on small groups. Ernestine Anderson does take the tempo up a notch or two on "...Another You" but that could be due to her time allotment of exactly sixty seconds!
Many of these great singers play fine piano and Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn and Diana Krall do so here. The two artists from outside jazz acquit themselves well, Lyle Lovett on "Gee Baby....." and Jill Phillips on the only contemporary tune, "This Could Happen To Us." Two vocal highlights are Dinah Washington's insinuating take on "Teach Me Tonight" and Carmen McRae's impeccable-as-always phrasing on "Exactly Like You." There are also gems on the instrumental side: a sparkling solo by the late Clifford Brown on Sarah Vaughan's "It's Crazy." That smooth Capitol studio orchestra behind Blossom Dearie's intimate presentation and the quartet backing up Anita O'Day's singing and scatting - Oscar, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis and drummer John Poole. Oscar, Ray and Herb also provide support for Lady Day, this time with Ed Shaughnessy on drums and Charlie Shavers on trumpet.
Verve is to be commended for providing recording dates and personnel where known. Hopefully the CD will introduce movie viewers to these great vocalists. In any event, just the collection to lift your spirits on a grey day.