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Lee Wiley, Anytime, Any Day, Anywhere



“Lee Wiley has class … She makes you hurt more and more with the remembrance of other, never-to-be-recaptured nights. Lee Wiley can do that to you – damn her! But damn her gently because she is, after all, the best jazz singer we have – the very best.” George Frazier

For sensuality, rhythmic impulse and musicality, Lee Wiley may now appear an easy counter part of the best black vocalists of her generation. Her style assumed the moiré distinct jazz connotations of Ethel Walters and, while she was perhaps never an improviser in the strictest sense, her distinctively warm gossamer tone, clear diction and sensitive feeling for the lyrics had by the late 1930s already earned her a special place in the jazz fraternity.

Lee Wiley, Anytime, Any Day, Anywhere


"Although possessed of a warm contralto voice, with just enough vibrato to excite your senses, and a languorous delivery, Lee Wiley recorded but sparingly. Given that the songs she chose showed an unerring good taste, and her ability to attract first-class accompanists, the listener is left wishing she'd committed more to wax. This is a centenary issue, although her year of birth is uncertain, and spans the years 1932 to 1954. The first two tracks come from a 1951 session when she was accompanied by two pianos, then it's back to a mid-1932 recording with Leo Reisman. That's followed by one of the two sides she recorded with Johnny Green in 1934, then not much happened until the turn of the decade, when she recorded a number of recordings of songs by the Gershwins, Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter and Harold Arlen. The majority were backed by small jazz groups, of which the titular leadership may have varied, but the personnel remained relatively constant. One exception was "Someone To Watch Over Me" on which she was accompanied by none other than Fats Waller on the pipe-organ, under the pseudonym Maurice. The April 1940 session with Bunny Berigan's Music produced four titles, but the one that's been chosen ("Let's Fly Away") was featured also on Retrospective's CD of Bunny Berigan, which duplication ought to have been avoided. Three months later she was backed by Muggsy Spanier and Jess Stacey on a lively rendition of "Down To Steamboat Tennessee", and 1946 recording of "Body And Soul" with violinist Eric Siday is another stand-out track. The seven 1950 tracks are illuminated by Bobby Hackett's cornet, but I could not detect Ruby Braff's presence on the final track. This is a delightful compilation, beautifully remastered and produced to the high standard that's already come to be associated with Retrospective, and is highly recommended." - Barry McCanna