Al Jolson – Cocktail Hour

Al Jolson
Cocktail Hour
(Allegro – 2000)
  by Matthew S. Robinson

From signature performances of “Swanee” and “Sonny Boy” to unmistakable renditions of other classic pop tunes like “Avalon,” this two-CD set is an extended greatest hits collection of the man who brought sound to the movies and favorite songs to generations of music lovers. Bouncing through the southern-tinged “Carolina in the Morning” and the a frivolous “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” the collection also demonstrates Jolson’s Vaudevillian crooning abilities through devotionals like a black-faced “My Mammy” and a two-paced “After You’ve Gone.”

Though the album is lacking both the crispness of modern recordings and any liner notes whatsoever (the dearth of musical history a much more egregious fault than the authentic victrola sound), it still proves able to capture the humor and pathos of one of the true pioneers of the entertainment industry.
© 2001, M.S. Robinson, ARR