Picks and Pans Review: I Am What I Am
Will Pat Benatar, Madonna, Chaka Khan and Prince still be cutting albums 35 or 40 years from now? And will they still sound as good as these four veterans of the Big Band era? Clooney's album (Concord) is another in her refreshing series of retrospectives of great popular composers, featuring such largely forgotten Berlin treasures as I Got Lost in His Arms and Better Luck Next Time as well as Cheek to Cheek and six other standbys. At 56, Clooney sounds better than ever and she is backed, as usual, by a creative studio band, including cornetist Warren Vache, saxophonist Scott Hamilton and the deft guitar of Ed Bickert. Fitzgerald's Mercer LP (Verve) was recorded in 1964, when she was 46, and is in rerelease. Despite the Nelson Riddle arrangements, this is not as spirited as most of Ella's Verve songbook series. Still it's hard to complain when her unexcelled voice ministers to such tunes as Something's Gotta Give or When a Woman Loves a Man. Eckstine, 70, who first broke through with Earl Hines, later had his own early bebop band with an astonishing roster: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Art Blakey and Sarah Vaughan, among others. His singing—deep, rumbling, histrionic—should please his admirers but it's an acquired taste. (Kimbo Records, Box 477, Long Branch, N.J.) When they were both members of the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, Connie Haines was largely overshadowed by Frank Sinatra. She was, though, one of the classiest of the swing-band singers. I Am What I Am (Bainbridge Ent. Co., P.O. Box 8248, Van Nuys, Calif. 91409) shows that at 63 she, like Clooney, has become a less chirpy vocalist. Her album's title song, from La Cage Aux Folles, testifies to that maturity, and she also brings back such period pieces as Once in a While and You Made Me Love You.