August 03, 1981 12:00 PM

Rosemary Clooney

Brewer, now 50, and Clooney, 53. were two of the hottest pop singers of the ’50s. Teenagers whose parents bridle at New Wave inanity might ask Mom and Dad if they remember grooving to Brewer’s dippy Music, Music, Music or Clooney’s mindless Come On-a My House. Both have maintained modest careers, though Clooney has received more notice for her messy divorce from Jose Ferrer, her bout with depression and her status as Debby Boone’s mother-in-law than for her music. Brewer, who always had a yen to be a jazz singer, made LPs with Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and this album, on which she is backed by drummer Shelly Manne’s group, is all Ellington material. That, for a singer, is like a cook starting a meal with prime filet mignon; barring total incompetence, something pretty terrific has to develop. It does, partly because Brewer is self-effacing enough to take only one chorus on most of the songs, and to let two, Sophisticated Lady and I Got it Bad, go all instrumental. That, happily, allows plenty of solo time for trumpeter Oscar Brashear and sax man Benny Carter. Brewer can still lapse into chirpiness, as she does on It Don’t Mean a Thing, but she has developed a husky touch that serves splendidly on such tunes as I’m Beginning to See the Light and Solitude. Clooney is more surprising, with the graceful, knowing approach she gives her interpretations of modem standards like Just the Way You Are and Come In From the Rain, as well as Jobim’s Meditation, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Hello, Young Lovers, and Tenderly (a 1952 Clooney hit). A combo that includes saxophonist Scott Hamilton, cornetist Warren Vaché, pianist Nat Pierce and vibraphonist Cal Tjader offers marvelous support.

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