The late Hoagy Carmichael is, to use an unfortunately hackneyed phrase, one of the key figures in pre-WWII American jazz and pop. Just look at a few of the songs he wrote: "Star Dust," "Rockin’ Chair" and of course, the oft-covered "Georgia On My Mind." Like Nat "King" Cole, he started out in jazz but by the 50s had moved into mainstream pop icon-hood, and like also like Cole had acted in some movies. (Carmichael even appeared as his own Stone Age self in the original Flintstones series.) This wonderful compilation presents the earliest recordings (1920s & 30s) under his own name and performing with others as well as choice covers by his contemporaries.
Hoagy had a deep, unrefined, almost "down-home" (he came from Indiana) voice, a bit like Tom Waits (in his "mellower" moments) and Jack Teagarden, and was an excellent, pointedly lyrical, percussive pianist. He was hooked-in with some of the best jazz players of the day: Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, violinist Joe Venuti (sounds killer here) and his friend Bix Beiderbecke. Other performers include Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines’ big band and singers Mildred Bailey (one of jazz’s most underrated singers) and Ethel Waters. This is music from an era where "jazz" and "pop" were indeed the SAME THING, a sound full of joyous, irreverent blare, hot-jazz swagger and blues-inspired Depression-era realism. Where other American Songbook songwriters’ forte was sophistication, Hoagy C. was an Everyman, a working-class common-sense intellectual, a Midwestern swell equally at home with a glass of iced tea on a back porch or sipping martinis with Bogart and Bacall in a swanky Hollywood bistro. Stardust Melody
is not just one of the cornerstones of American jazz and pop - his songs are still often performed -- it’s a lot (over 67 min.) of mellow, classy fun.