cover image Singers and the Song

Singers and the Song

Graham Lees, Gene Lees. Oxford University Press, USA, $24.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-19-504293-1

Lyricist and editor-publisher of Jazzletter, Lees is little known to the general public but highly esteemed by music professionals and those who appreciate highly literate criticism and accomplished storytelling. This collection of his Jazzletter essays perceptively examines the work of Johnny Mercer (""the finest lyricist in the English language'') and composers Hugo Friedhofer and Francy Boland, the singing styles of Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee, Edith Piaf, Jo Stafford and Frank Sinatra (``our poet laureate, the best singer we've ever had''), the reasons why big bands were killed off and the implications for song writers of the influence of French on the English language. A long final chapter, ``A Journey to Cologne,'' tells how an international group of people made an album of songs (with Sarah Vaughan as soloist) based on poems by Pope John Paul II. A feast for those who love surprises. (October 22)