Album: No Cover, No Minimum
Artist: Billy Eckstine
Genre: Vocal Jazz
Billy Eckstine’s rich baritone voice got better with age. Even at the ripe old age of 46 (a lifetime, by show biz standards), the crooner still possessed a youthful exuberance. All throughout No Cover, No Minimum — a live album recorded at Las Vegas’ New Frontier Hotel — Eckstine delivers a vibrant set of crowd-pleasing standards. And the fact that the crowd was probably half-drunk only adds to the music’s nostalgia.
By 1960, Eckstine was clearly on the back half of his career, one which began in the 1940s with his bebop big band and peaked in 1951 with the languid ballad “I Apologize.” Nevertheless, No Cover, No Minimum is a perfect testament to his discography. Eckstine was made to sing in a Vegas nightclub, and his suave renditions of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” and “In the Still of the Night” are as intimate as any songs he ever recorded.
Ever the showman, he even delivers a couple trumpet solos to satisfy the woozy audience.
Even though No Cover, No Minimum relies on swing-era nostalgia, the underrated album is swing-era nostalgia played impeccably well. Sometimes, that’s all that matters.