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Bestselling CDs

Notable CDs | The five best-selling jazz albums according to Billboard, July 9

Issue: "Supreme Court fight," July 23, 2005

Bestselling CDs

The five best-selling jazz albums according to Billboard, July 9

1. IT'S TIME - Michael Bublé

Weeks on chart: 20

Style: Fresh big-band/swing arrangements of several generations' worth of romantic pop standards.

Worldview: That given the right interpreter, the love songs of one's grandparents (George and Ira Gershwin) and parents (the Beatles, Stevie Wonder) can still speak to young lovers today.

Overall quality: As a singer, Mr. Bublé possesses youthful enthusiasm and undeniable talent but not, as yet, the understated grace or implicit maturity of a Bennett or a Sinatra.

2. ROCK SWINGS - Paul Anka

Weeks on chart: 3

Style: Big-band/swing versions of songs originally made famous in the '80s and '90s by Spandau Ballet, Survivor, Oasis, Soundgarden, Lionel Richie, Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, et al.

Worldview: That within even the most banal modern rock or pop tune there's an exuberantly swinging nightclub number dying to get out.

Overall quality: Consistently entertaining, occasionally stunning, and for once the lyrics of Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit" are intelligible.

3. CARELESS LOVE - Madeleine Peyroux

Weeks on chart: 41

Style: What Billie Holliday would be doing today if she were doing jazzy folk.

Worldview: That youthful good looks, a French-café ambience, and songs by Hank Williams, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan are sufficient to illuminate the following liner Dylan Thomas fragment: ". . . But for the lovers, their arms round the griefs of the ages . . ."

Overall quality: Nice but superfluous with so many Billie Holliday discs still in print.

4. WHEN I FALL IN LOVE - Chris Botti

Weeks on chart: 39

Style: Candlelight-dinner jazz so light it's almost Muzak.

Worldview: That youthful good looks, a blurb from Oprah Winfrey, a cover photo suggesting that fashion models can't resist a man with a horn, a stultifyingly safe song selection, and soft-focus musicianship can fool enough of the people enough of the time.

Overall quality: The musical equivalent of the Harlequin-romance novel, the "chick flick," and the valentine box full of chocolates.

5. THAT'S WHAT I SAY - John Scofield

Weeks on chart: 3

Style: Mainly acoustic-jazz versions (with and without vocals) of 13 Ray Charles hits.

Objectionable material: None-not even "Let's Go Get Stoned," which meant "Let's get drunk" in the '60s and has no words in Scofield's rendition.

Worldview: That even without vocals (or with vocals from guests like Aaron Neville, Dr. John, and Mavis Staples), the Ray Charles catalog springs eternal.

Overall quality: Pretty good as bandwagon hopping goes.

In the spotlight

Eight years ago at the age of 63, Pat Boone released No More Mr. Nice Guy, an album of heavy-metal classics set to big-band/swing arrangements, the intermittent listenability of which was overshadowed by the scandal Mr. Boone caused among conservative Christians when he showed up at the American Music Awards wearing leather, a studded dog collar, and tattoos. Now another erstwhile teen idol, Paul Anka, has at 64 released his own album of big-band/swing rock hits, Rock Swings (Verve), and soundly beaten Mr. Boone at his own game. Besides avoiding the mistake of posing in metal or grungewear, Mr. Anka out-sings not only Mr. Boone but also his own younger self, making him one of the few rock-era vocalists actually to improve with age. And by not limiting himself to metal (he assays the likes of R.E.M. and Pet Shop Boys along with Van Halen and Bon Jovi), he achieves a stylistic variety rich enough to deflect charges of gimmickry.

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