Always in Our Hearts
If you believe, as I do, that the inimitable Etta Jones remained at the very top of her game from 1960's landmark Don't Go To Strangers straight through Etta Jones Sings Lady Day (released the day she died, at age 72, October 16, 2001), then you likely already own all five of her career-capping HighNote discs: The Melody Lingers On, My Buddy, All the Way, Easy Living and Lady Day. If not, the HighNote compilation Always In Our Hearts: Etta Jones as We Loved Her, assembled by her longtime friend and collaborator Houston Person, provides a thoughtful overview of her five final years. In the liner notes, Person claims that "these were her favorite tracks," a remark that's hard to argue with given the uniform beauty of all 11 tunes collected here, ranging from a dreamy "Did I Remember?" to a cashmere-warm "What a Wonderful World." But be forewarned: if this is your first introduction to Jones, you'll find yourself hankering for not only her HighNote discs in their entirety, but also her entire Prestige catalogue from the early '60s, all of which (except 1961's lush Etta Jones and Strings) are available on CD. If you don't know where to start, pick up Strangers and 1962's sensational Hollar!, featuring Oliver Nelson, Bucky Pizzarelli, Kenny Burrell, Roy Haynes and just about the finest "Reverse the Charges" you're ever likely to hear.