It’s getting dark, and it’s almost dinner time, and it’s Friday, and it’s Valentine’s Day. So put on those jazz tunes and be one with your libido.
1. ETTA JONES, ‘Until there was you’
No, not Etta James. (“At Last” will not be on this list.) Here, Etta Jones takes us, to the rhythm of a ballad, through Meredith Wilson’s classic 1957 composition, written for The man of music.
2. JEAN HARTMAN, ‘They say it’s wonderful’
Johnny Hartman was underestimated during his lifetime, but his incredibly deep baritone made him the ultimate walker. (No wonder Clint Eastwood featuring the voice of Hartman in the romantic drama Madison County Bridges.)
3. RED GARLAND, ‘The very thought of you’
Best known as the pianist of Miles Davis’ excellent 1950s quintet, Red Garland nonetheless had a successful career as a solo artist. Its chord voicings, rich and colorful, are sui generis.
4. MICHELLE PFEIFFER, ‘Makin’ Whoopee ‘/’ My Funny Valentine ‘
If you haven’t seen the part of The fabulous Baker Boys (the most underrated movie of 1989) in which Michelle Pfeiffer lays down on a piano and sings “Makin ‘Whoopee” in a red dress while Jeff Bridges accompanies her on the keyboard, do it now.
5. ELLA FITZGERALD AND LOUIS ARMSTRONG, “Closeness to you”
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong have never had a romantic relationship, but their musical bond on this record is extraordinary.
6. ERROLL GARNER, ‘Exactly like you’
The popular ballad of Erroll Garner, “Misty,” Could very well have been on this list, but here’s a tune you might not have heard before.
7. DINAH WASHINGTON, ‘Cold Heart Cold’
Originally composed and performed by country music singer Hank Williams, Dinah Washington brings her own bluesy form of expression to this sad yet romantic song.
8. BILLIE VACANCES, ‘You don’t know what love is’
“This one is my favorite”, writer Teju Cole noted on Twitter today, “because oh my heart Almighty God doesn’t want someone to please do something.”
9. HOUSTON PERSON, ‘My romance’
Houston Person is the king of the sexy ballad. (Oh, the breath of that saxophone!)
10. DEAR BLOSSOM, ‘They say it’s spring’
“All About Blossom Dearie”, the late New Yorker jazz critic Whitney Balliett written once, “is just.”