Rosie the Riveting
How a great pop singer regained her voice.
Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By JOHN CHECK
The prose here is largely workmanlike: Felicitous formulations are few, while clichés appear in perhaps too great a number. A greater flaw, however, is that Crossland and Macfarlane fail to bring sufficient penetration to their analysis of the music itself, especially the music that is the ostensible emphasis of the book: Clooney’s work from the last quarter-century of her life. Only too rarely do they deliver themselves of judgments such as this: “The album [Sentimental Journey] had more fizz than anything Rosemary had recorded since her Concord tribute to Nelson Riddle in 1995 and the same sense of pep and vigor accompanied her to [Michael] Feinstein’s [club in New York].” But even this is likely to leave readers wanting to know which tracks from the album were particularly good, and why those, and not others, should be singled out.
Still, Late Life Jazz provides a solid introduction to the life and work of a singer whose legacy is more substantial than viewers of her television shows from the 1950s—or of Mad Men—may have imagined.
John Check teaches music theory at the University of Central Missouri.