Ole Buttermilk Sky

by: Hoagy Carmichael

Hoagy Carmichael recorded a few isolated singles on Decca Records in the late 1930s and early 1940s, then had an exclusive five-year relationship with the label from 1946 to 1951. Later in the '50s, he briefly recorded for Kapp Records, former Decca executive Dave Kapp's independent label. This long-overdue CD compilation draws upon that catalog for 24 tracks that trace Carmichael's career as a popular recording artist. Carmichael is best known as a songwriter, secondarily as a jazz musician and character actor, but these recordings recall Carmichael the recording star, who scored a number one hit with "Huggin' and Chalkin'" in 1947. As in the case of that novelty song, many of Carmichael's records featured songs he had not written himself and on which he was accompanied by an orchestra. Still, he does have writing credits on 13 tracks here, among them such favorites as "Star Dust," "Hong Kong Blues," "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief," "Rockin' Chair," "Georgia on My Mind," "My Resistance Is Low," and "Lazy River," often in arrangements featuring Carmichael and his piano backed just by a rhythm section. Of course, those are the most impressive recordings here, but the comic Carmichael who duets with Cass Daley on "The Aba Daba Honeymoon" is also a droll delight, and the disc provides a more well-round portrait of Carmichael than just a compilation of his own songs would. ~ William Ruhlmann

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