After receiving a 2008 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Revue, this song cycle welcomely arrives on CD. Composer Christopher Miller's country-infused melodies capture both the highs and lows of living somewhat apart from the world and are outfitted with often pungently observed lyrics by Nathan Tysen. The first-rate ensemble includes Tony Award winner Karen Olivo, and Tony nominees Gavin Creel and Joshua Henry, along with Matt Caplan, Alysha Umphress and Berrett Wilbert Weed. Among the album highlights are Henry's sly delivery of a paean to Washington Heights and Creel and Olivo's heartfelt rendition of "Wildflowers," a cunningly abstract song about a couple's mixed feelings about their relationship.
That's Entertainment - A Celebration of the MGM Film Musical (EMI)
The spirits and talents of artists such as Fred Astaire, Arthur Freed, Gene Kelly, and Judy Garland are evoked and glorified on this aurally opulent album from The John Wilson Orchestra. It doesn't hurt that alongside the 84 piece ensemble are singers such as Kim Criswell, Matthew Ford, Sarah Fox, Seth MacFarlane and Curtis Stigers, who lends their fine voices – as well as their evident love of the material – to tunes such as "The Trolley Song" (from Meet Me in St. Louis) and "Well, Did You Evah?" (from High Society). Among the standouts of the 14 ebullient tracks are McFarlane's "Singin' in the Rain" and Criswell's "I Got Rhythm" (from Girl Crazy).
The Desert Song (Studio Cast Recording) (Masterworks Broadway/ArkivMusic)
Chances are there aren't many people who have been pining for a release of this 1926 operetta in 2012, but this new release of a 1958 studio album, produced by Lehman Engel, and featuring Giorgio Tozzi and Kathy Barr, displays the show's myriad joys so splendidly that it may well become a "must have" for musical theater lovers. Both Tozzi's warm vocals and Barr's pristine trills thrill and when they're used for songs like "The Sabre Song" and the title song (sometimes thought of as "Blue Heaven"), which contemporary listeners will recognize even if they don't "know" them, is simply sublime.
Stacy Sullivan - It's a Good Day: A Tribute to Miss Peggy Lee (LML Music)
Sullivan channels the essence of the great singer/song stylist Lee on this stylish recording that never veers into crass imitation. The disc includes both songs that Lee co-penned during her career, such as "It's a Good Day" and "You Was Right Baby," and some of the classics that she covered like Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" and Rodgers and Hart's "Nobody's Heart Belongs to Me." Sullivan's arrangements, created with Jon Weber and Steve Doyle, take some terrific flights of fancy as they muse on Lee's legacy, perhaps no more so than in a medley of "I Got Rhythm" "My Romance" and "One Kiss."