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on June 17, 2002
Of all my albums, this is the one to which, sooner or later, I always return. It's one of those instances where the whole is greater than the parts. Mr Astaire's phrasing and intonation are their usual perfection, but everybody making music here both solos and harmonizes in a way that must be heard to be appreciated. The backup is cool jazz with Oscar Peterson and other period greats. Astaire does all his standards, talks a little, dances a little and there's a charming brochure. It was a big deal when it was released around 1953, and listening to it today, the collaboration is still a marriage made in Heaven.
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on February 14, 2001
Fred Astaire distills a lifetime of perfect timing in this album. It is the result of a labor of love, produced by Norman Granz, who persuaded Astaire to work in an intimate setting to put together swinging (and well-recorded) versions of many of the songs he introduced on stage and in films. His tone won't blow you away -- his voice is as thin as the plots of many of his movies -- but his respect for the lyric, impeccable phrasing, and consummate feel for the way a song should go make him the equal of anyone in interpreting these classic numbers.
This was a chance for Astaire to work with a small group of excellent jazz musicians, including Oscar Peterson, to make an album that is fun, musical, and intimate. And it's not just for aging fans of Fred. My 10-year-old daughter plays it, too.
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on May 23, 2000
Fred Astaire has always admired jazz musicians, and improvisation. Here he gets a chance to sing(or should I say swing) with the likes of Charlie Shavers, Oscar Peterson and many other members of the JATP. Astaire has never sounded better, he sounds truly thrilled to be working with such talented jazz players. He gives all of the musicians plenty of solo time and even gives them a chance to do a jam session(without him singiing). This session is truly a gem. If you like Fred Astaire or jazz this cd you will surely enjoy. An essential addition to any serious jazz collectors music library. ESSENTIAL MUSIC. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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on February 5, 2001
In an album that could well be called the Great American Songbook as it contains so many of the finest songs ever written by Berlin, Porter, Gershwin and others, Fred Astaire proves that it phrasing and timing, and not voice, that make a great singer. This is a truly remarkable CD in all aspects. The sound quality, considering it was recorded in 1952, is superb. Astaire is in incomparable form, with the songs sounding much better than some of his earlier versions (this is the DEFINITIVE version of Puttin on the Ritz, for example). And the sextet supporting Astaire, including the marvelous Oscar Peterson at the keyboard, is as fine as any. Not to be missed for anyone who loves this genre.
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on July 6, 2004
Fred Astaire was at his peak. You could not ask for better musicians supporting him. The songs were classic. Astaire delivers these songs in an intimate setting with a small jazz band -- such as you'd hear at a small jazz club. All the musicians, including Astaire, sound like they were having the time of their lives -- each playing off the others' artistry. This recording captures a moment in time when events coalesced to make the conditions for a perfect recording. "Heaven, I'm in heaven..." That pretty much says it all. This set is a classic for the ages.
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on September 17, 2000
Fred Astaire has always been known more for his dancing than his singing. Given that he has a limited vocal range and nowhere near the talents of Bing Crosby, Sinatra, or any of his contemporaries, this isn't entirely surprising. At the same time, it was Fred Astaire that introduced to the world nearly all of the great songs of Irving Berlin, and many of the best songs Cole Porter ever wrote. In fact, Irving Berlin wrote many of his songs with Fred Astaire specifically in mind. The fact that these same songs were later performed, sometimes definitively, by others, should not diminish the fact that the first person that sang Berlin's "Isn't This A Lovely Day" or Porter's "Night and Day" was Fred Astaire.
On this album, Fred Astaire brings a new interpretation to many of the songs he helped make famous, as well as many others. Throughout, he demonstrates a complete understanding of what it means to be a jazz singer and, understanding the limits of his voice, he uses those limits to great effect. Backed by some of the greatest players in the history of jazz, Astaire does a pretty good job of showing us all why he should be rembered as more than just a song-and-dance man.
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on October 31, 2007
This is the same CD as "Oscar Peterson & Fred Astaire, The Complete Norman Granz Sessions," except the latter has a couple more instrumentals.
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on June 7, 2004
for some time fred astaire passionately wanted to make a recording with a group of jazz musicians. he wanted a sense of spontainaity, he wanted to introduce many of the numbers with a brief narrative and he wanted to include a couple of dancing jam sessions.
in 1953 he got his wish. the musicians are an exempelary group, which included oscar peterson and the result, called the astaire story, is a labour of love.
upon its release some critics harped on the fact that astaire wasnt a great singer.
thats a given, but he is an interesting singer and shares that special category with notables like dean martin, sammy davis, al jolson, and even hank williams sr.
the astaire story withstands the test of time and i must personally rank as one of my most valued posessions in my collection.
from the first track to the last this is something special.
the extreme standouts are steppin out with my babay, oh lady be good, i love louisa and of corse top hat, white tie and tails. but, every track is pure joy.
it really does come together as a conceptual valentine to making music.
the astaire story is out of print and has been released under various titles, one being steppin out with my baby which is a massively condensed disc and not recommended. the other titles i have not heard, but if like the steppin out release, they omit the intros, then i would hold out for this.
astaires intros are heartwarming and valuable.
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on February 4, 2015
The Astaire Story is a jazz classic and one of the greatest studio recordings made by any artist.However this new version release by an unknown European concern going by the name of Jazz Masters is to be steered clear of.It is NOT an official release which means it has been created through the use of the best available records.And this is where the trouble lies.The recordings have repeated clicks and pops throughout the entire two CDs.For example the very first tune Isn't it a Lovely Day starts it all off.Just as Fred sings about getting out of the storm and gives a slight chuckle,a grand "click"is heard coming through stereo! The makers didn't seem to care one way or another or they would have tried to reduce or preferably eliminate the sound altogether.I have the original record set and a later compilation CD of some of the tracks and none exhibit ANY noises whatsoever.
And the noises continue on the next tune,and on and on.This is a sorry excuse for a re-release of such magnitude.My advice is steer WAY clear of it....unless it has Verve on the label.If not,you are throwing your money away.I am sending mine back for a refund pronto.
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on December 17, 2013
Hampered by a mediocre analogue-to-digital conversion. The LPs sound tremendously better, and are not hard to find on the second hand market.

These CDs rob so much of the warmth and resonance from Astaire's voice, leaving an annoying, honky sort of resonance that many of the performances seem to fall flat; hear them on one of the three LP issues from the 50's-70's and suddenly it all makes sense and falls into place.

If you can, skip these CDs and buy the old LPs.
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