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Steppin' Out: Astaire Sings (W/Oscar Peterson)

4.6 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 21, 1994
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In 1952 Fred Astaire joined Oscar Peterson and some of Verve's best sidemen to lay down jazzy, laid-back versions of songs he had made famous in his Broadway and film career. Those 38 tracks, released as The Astaire Story, have been condensed into this collection, Steppin' Out: Fred Astaire Sings. While Astaire was not blessed with great vocal chops, the best American songwriters including George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter loved him for his unerring sense of rhythm and sympathetic treatment of lyrics, qualities that are well displayed here. Tony Bennett hit the pop mainstream with his 1994 album of jazzy Astaire standards. Here's the original. --David Horiuchi
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 21, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Verve/PolyGram
  • ASIN: B0000046V0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,918 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
In an album that contains 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. 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. There is also a 2 CD, complete recording of this session on Amazon.com called The Astaire Story.
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Format: Audio CD
The Great American Song Book reached its highest point in the 1950's with Verve's Jazz recordings of the classic American music of the 1930's. All the Jazz greats stepped back twenty years and breathed new life into the works of Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hart and Cole Porter.

"Steppin' Out" is brilliant because it serves as a link between the Broadway and Hollywood Music of the 1930's and the new Jazz interpretations of the 1950's. Many of the songs covered in this album were written for and first performed by Fred Astaire.

Verve had a first rate idea in asking Fred Astaire to work with Oscar Peterson. The arrangements show all the brilliance that Peterson was capable of achieving and Astaire stepped up to the musical challange. The jazz pace and phrasing worked perfectly for Astaire. His voice and delivery had only improved with time. In my opinion, his voice in the 1930's had a tinny quality to it. But by the 1950's he had matured and there is deepness to his voice that works well in a jazz setting.

There can be little argument that Fred Astaire was one of the great dancers of the Twentieth Century. Although not as well respected as a vocalist, this album quite clearly shows that Astaire could do it all.
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Format: Audio CD
According to Hollywood legend, Fred Astaire's 1933 screen test for RKO resulted in this studio memo: "Can't sing. Can't act. Can dance a little." In reality, the dance visionary was an underrated vocal stylist who brought out the best in the compositions of George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Originally produced by Norman Granz, "Steppin' Out" compiles 17 recordings from Astaire's classic 1952 session - accompanied by a stellar jazz combo featuring pianist Oscar Peterson. The sound quality and musicianship are impeccable, with Fred smoothly gliding from one standard to another. A particularly nice touch is the three-minute interview that follows "Cheek to Cheek." If you cannot find the 38-track "Astaire Story," this hour-long Verve CD makes for an excellent overview.
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Format: Audio CD
This is my all-time favorite album, bought 10 years ago with the thought that it might contain the movie versions of the songs.
Instead, I'd say these are the "musical versions," with the Berlin, Gershwin, Porter, Kern melodies clearly intact, but expressed with such genuine feeling through Astaire's perfect timing and the musicians' obvious comraderie that it's hard to believe there were earlier versions (my apologies to Ginger Rogers). Flip Philips' mellow sax solo on S'Wonderful, guitarist Barney Kessel's wonderfully sweet introduction to They Can't Take that Away from Me, Charlie Shavers' point/counterpoint trumpet "talking" on Nice Work if You Can Get It, Ray Brown's understated bass work on all (That's why he was so good!), Alvin Stoller's drums and of course the great Oscar Peterson on piano as he brings the unexpected swing to Just the Way You look Tonight moves the "steppin" out of the ordinary and into the sublime. A thousand times heard -- easily standing the test of time.
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Format: Audio CD
If you want to see Fred Astaire dance, watch the movies. If you want to hear him sing -- this album (or the much pricier "The Astaire Story" 2-disc set from which these songs were selected) gives Fred the chance to match his many years of experience on stage and screen with just about the greatest jazz backup band in existence at the time. Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass, Barney Kessel on guitar, etc. This is an all-star jazz band who give their utmost to back up a singing star they respect, and Astaire, with his inimitable stylism, is obviously "in heaven" because he sings better than I've ever heard him sing. There is a palpable sense of mutual love and joy and respect between the musicians who made this album.
To hear it is to love it. Not to knock the big band and orchestra arrangements over which Astaire sang many of these songs in his musical films, but this modest-sized jazz ensemble is obviously more suited to Astaire's singing, in my opinion. It is warm, intimate, and thoroughly enjoyable. Of course, if you like bombast, look elsewhere. If you love subtlety and the highest levels of technical improvisational musicianship, this is it.
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Format: Audio CD
Fred Astair is best known for his his dancing, but this CD demonstrates that Mr. Astair's singing abilities deserve a second (and third) listen. Anyone who has studied music and or voice can appreciate the demands on the voice that many of these songs command. And just as Astair made his dance routines look effortless, he glides through these tunes with ease. Don't be fooled. His phrasing is inpeccable, his timing supurb. Even more impressive is the fact that these songs were recorded with little or no rehearsal. The artist was reaching for a relaxed and fun feel on this album. He certainly achieved it. From the first infectious notes of "Stepping Out With My Baby" you find yourself dreaming of a world of martinis, big bands and nightclubs with cigarette girls. It also helps to have some of the best jazz musicians around at the time to back you up. If you are just getting into old standards and jazz, this is a great introduction to them both. Great cocktail party music to boot! The only reason it got four stars instead of five is because one of Fred's all-time best songs "Isn't It a Lovely Day" is missing from this album. But, of course, nothing is stopping me from ordering another Fred Astair album. And I think I will...
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