Jackie Paris: The Intimate Jackie Paris

Pardon my naivete, but the vagaries of jazz stardom have always perplexed me. Why does one mediocre performer skyrocket while another, far superior artist stalls? Why, for instance, while lesser mortals have earned global acclaim, does Jackie Paris remain on the rim of obscurity? Critics, of course, have long recognized him as one of the finest-often the finest-jazz singer of his generation. But rave reviews don’t pay the rent, and Paris hasn’t once, over the course of five decades, been able to rest on his laurels. Maybe, within the bizarro world of show business where reverse logic so often prevails, it’s because he’s simply too good. Or perhaps the real secret of his nonsuccess is that he’s simply incapable of compromise. The latest addition to his short but sweet list of uncompromising accomplishments is The Intimate Jackie Paris (Hudson HUD1001; 39:37), a richly hued ballad collection that marks his first studio effort as both vocalist and guitarist. With only bass player Mike Richmond on hand for support, Paris elevates 11 standards with his trademark blend of urban sophistication and impish insouciance. Sure, at age 74, his edges have started to fray. But a little raggedness only serves to accentuate the contented coziness of “This Is Always” and the frustrated resignation that warms “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” or to deepen the heartache of his exquisite “When I Lost You.”