by: Cole Porter
Beyond all the ink that's been spilled proclaiming Cole Porter's importance in the development of American song, the endless list of famous artists who have covered his tunes proves his rightful place in the highest tier of classic pop songwriters. To wit, A GREAT AMERICAN SONGWRITER, released at the time of the 2004 Porter film biography DE-LOVELY, features a handful of vocal and instrumental jazz legends paying respect to Porter's gift for unparalleled melodicism and clever lyrics. From Artie Shaw, who opens thing up here with a charmingly smooth swing rendition of "Begin the Beguine," to George Benson's groovy, boogaloo-flavored "Love for Sale," a century's worth of musicians show their love for this Broadway icon. The perfection of Porter's songwriting is already common knowledge, so the real treat here is listening to the range of interpretations. Dinah Shore gets intimate on "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," Billy Holiday is beautifully woozy on "Night & Day" (there's also a technically astonishing Django Reinhardt take on the same song), and Bing Crosby lends his timeless croon to "Don't Fence Me In." Also on the list are Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughn, Judy Garland, and Lionel Hampton (who does a Latin/swing change-up on "I Love Paris").