Picks and Pans Review: Stardust, and Much More
Carmichael, who died in 1981, is most famous for writing “Stardust” (he did the melody, Mitchell Parish the lyrics). But, as this reissue reminds us, his composing credits also included “Up a Lazy River,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “Rockin’ Chair.” He also was a most captivating singer, occasionally going as flat as a flapjack but always adding a laconic swing and sourball sweetness to his vocals.
This album doesn’t include either of his novelty hits, “Huggin’ and Chalkin’ ” and “Ole Buttermilk Sky,” or such Carmichael standards as “Skylark” and “Hong Kong Blues.” There are three versions of “Stardust,” the latest from 1960, and some 1920s cuts that include brief (and typically penetrating) solos by cornet player Bix Beiderbecke. (Among Carmichael’s movie roles was one in Young Man with a Horn, in which Kirk Douglas played a cornet player whose life of extremes was modeled on Beiderbecke’s.) The sentimental “Judy,” which Hoagy wrote with Sammy Lerner, is nice to hear too.
The recordings have been touched up without hurting the music, much of which sounds remarkably fresh. And how many of this year’s records will anyone be listening to around 2050 or so? (RCA)