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Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria

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Album Review

More than anything else, Lena Horne was a nightclub entertainer, and having completed her film commitments to MGM in 1956, she was free to turn her attention to performing full-time. Starting on New Year's Eve, she spent eight weeks at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, and at the end of the run RCA Victor Records brought in recording equipment. The result is an excellent representation of Horne in her natural environment. Backed by Nat Brandwynne's Orchestra as conducted by her husband, Lennie Hayton, Horne essays a series of vintage standards that go back to 1929's "Honeysuckle Rose," which she sang in the 1943 film Thousands Cheer. There is a Cole Porter medley ("the always-surprising Cole Porter tunes," she calls them) that includes a triumphant "It's All Right With Me," and the set concludes with "From This Moment On," showing Horne to be the perfect interpreter of Porter's sophisticated songs. And there is a shorter Duke Ellington medley consisting of "Mood Indigo" and "I'm Beginning to See the Light" that is equally impressive. Among the more contemporary tracks, Horne borrows "Let Me Love You" from Mabel Mercer, who introduced it; "Today I Love Everybody" from Betty Grable, who sang it in the 1953 film The Farmer Takes a Wife; and "A New Fangled Tango" from Ethel Merman, who performed it in the 1956 musical Happy Hunting. These are good choices given sympathetic arrangements, and Horne performs them with just the right tone of romance and sly humor. Lena Horne may have left Hollywood behind her by early 1957, but this live album, which charted in the Top Ten, demonstrated that in doing so she had only returned to her greatest strength as a performer.

Biography

Born: June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Singer/actress Lena Horne's primary occupation was nightclub entertaining, a profession she pursued successfully around the world for more than 60 years, from the 1930s to the 1990s. In conjunction with her club work, she also maintained a recording career that stretched from 1936 to 2000 and brought her three Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989; she appeared in 16 feature films and several shorts between 1938 and 1978; she performed occasionally on Broadway, including in her...
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Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria, Lena Horne
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