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Thursday, September 21, 2006


Fats Waller, the great songwriter, pianist, and singer. "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Honeysuckle Rose," many more.

Hoagy Carmichael, songwriter, singer, pianist, movie star. "Up a Lazy River," "Stardust," many more.

Harold Arlen, composer of "The Wizard of Oz" and scads of other standards; his version of "One For My Baby (And One More for the Road)" moves me more than Sinatra's.

Arranger-composer for the Jimmie Lunceford and Tommy Dorsey big bands, Sy Oliver also was a smooth crooner of his own songs ("Dream of You").

Johnny Mercer, business mogul (Capitol Records), hit singer, occasional and fine composer ("Dream," "Something's Gotta Give"), and one of my favorite lyricists ("One For My Baby," "Too Marvelous for Words," "Moon River," buckets more).

Don Redman's big band arrangements for Fletcher Henderson in the early '20s influenced Ellington and everybody; he also wrote great standards and sang them sweetly ("Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You").

Irving Berlin was a singer before he was a songwriter.

Clarence Williams, pianist and composer, played with Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and many others; some scholars dispute his songwriting credits, but he couldn't have stolen them all, and he sang strongly ("Baby Won't You Please Come Home").

Noble Sissle, singing star from the 'teens, lyricist with composer Eubie Blake; most famous lyric is probably "I'm Just Wild About Harry."

The great Billie Holiday wrote some of her biggest hits ("God Bless the Child").

Dizzy Gillespie was a great scat singer and wrote some good songs ("He Beeped When He Should Have Bopped").

Yip Harburg wrote the lyrics for, among myriad others, "The Wizard of Oz" and "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"; his recording of the latter reveals a good singer.

Minstrel and Broadway star Bert Williams wrote one of the great songs of the 20th century, "Nobody," as well as others.

I'm always happy to hear Cole Porter sing his own songs.

Billy Strayhorn's intonation wasn't perfect, but he drew a wry, pained humor out of his "Lush Life" that I've never heard anyone else find.

The other singer-songwriters. They would make a killer 2-disc compilation, wouldn't they? (Whaddaya say, Jody?)

Other nominees more than welcome.

That would make a killer 2, 3 or x CD compilation. I can't fill these ears with enough Strayhorn.

For a little "out there" I think Sun Ra deserves a look as a singer/songwriter. He wasn't much of a singer, but his tunes and poetry are rich with substance.
Fats Waller himself deserves as many CDs as possible; I said "2" only because that's about the limit of my own ability to assimilate a new collection.

I saw Sun Ra with his Arkestra about 20 years ago and it was huge. Thanks for nominating him -- I hadn't thought of him in this context.
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