While this is George Wein’s first appearance on Arbors Jazz, his reputation as a producer, promoter, pianist and festival pioneer is well known. This release is, in part, a re-issue. Twelve tracks reappear courtesy of Atlantic Records who first issued Wein, Women & Song
in 1955. The remaining ten songs were recorded in 1992 and appear here for the first time.
In my opinion, this is the finest re-issue album of 2002 in the classic jazz genre. Certainly George Wein is not about to unseat Tony Bennett as a vocalist. Let it be said that Wein sings with feeling his interpretation of American standards would delight the composers and lyricists. As a record producer and club owner, the pianist developed a sixth sense when choosing great tunes. It’s impossible to mention all the writers on a CD containing 22 songs but among them are Armstrong, Gershwin, Donaldson, Ellington, McHugh, Kahn and Johnny Burke.
The founder of the Newport Jazz Festival obviously had an eye for talent, hence the appearance of trumpet stars Ruby Braff, Bobby Hackett and Warren Vache, Jr. Hackett appeared on the original Atlantic vinyl as Wally Wales. Contractual conflicts in those years often pushed artist into the use of pseudonyms and Bobby Hackett was known as Pete Pesci on another label. No matter the name, it’s impossible to disguise the talent behind the horn.
Musically, George Wein is a fine pianist and his expertise on the instrument is most evident on the 1992 tracks. The CD contains some of the most romantic songs ever written. It’ll make a great Valentine gift!