This is perhaps the best collection of Lena Horne material released to date, especially if you're a fan of music from the 1930s and 1940s. Most collections focus on Lena's later work, which is a shame, as her earliest recordings are quite good. Her voice is far more subtle and has far more vibrato on the older material, lulling you into a sweet spell. Later in her career Lena developed a louder, more out-front vocal style which dominated the music, as was common in the post-war era. Although her voice is still wonderful, unlike other big band singers who also made the transition to the slick, sophisticated orchestrations of the 1950s (Peggy Lee, for example), Lena Horne just sounds better in her younger days.
Featured on this CD are two songs each from Lena's stints with Charlie Barnet and Artie Shaw, as well as work under her own name during the war years, including the famous ''Stormy Weather,'' a song forever linked to her and the highlight of the album. Hart and Rodgers' ''Where or When'' and the bluesy ''Good-for-Nothin' Joe'' are also standouts on the CD, as is the playful ''Love Me a Little Little.'' In fact, the first sixteen songs are all excellent, truly excellent. The last six songs on the CD are more modern, coming from 1955 and 1958 sessions. Although crisp, clear and very good they just don't blend in well to her earlier material and throw off the mood of the album. Don't let that dissuade you from listening to it, though, it's well worth hearing.
An excellent collection. Both fans of Lena Horne and fans of the big band era will truly enjoy it.