Rebecca Kilgore & the Harry Allen Quartet: Some Like It Hot: The Music of Marilyn Monroe

In recent years, vocalist Rebecca Kilgore and saxophonist Harry Allen, two of jazz’s most prolific artists, have regularly united to shape albums around Broadway scores, to date revisiting Guys and Dolls, South Pacific and The Sound of Music. Now the marvelously simpatico pair takes a bit of a left turn, diving into the relatively slim Marilyn Monroe songbook.

As Kilgore noted in a recent interview, she was at first hesitant when Allen suggested the concept, uninterested in parroting Monroe’s sultry style. But she agreed to proceed on her own terms, reinterpreting iconic numbers like “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and “A Little Girl From Little Rock” as jazz standards. Stripped of Monroe’s lush sensuality, the tunes hold up surprisingly well, the requisite sexiness enhanced by Allen’s slinky solos. Ever the musical archeologist, Kilgore digs up a few less familiar selections, including the charming “Incurably Romantic,” the peppy title track from 1960’s Let’s Make Love and the cuddly if dated “She Acts Like a Woman Should.”

Kilgore rounds out her dozen tracks with the sweet homage “Marilyn Monroe,” written by her pal and frequent collaborator Dave Frishberg. Allen and his quartet mates-pianist Rossano Sportiello, bassist Joel Forbes and drummer Chuck Riggs-also get to stretch out on two instrumentals: a sizzling “Running Wild” and sparkling “Some Like It Hot.”