My coffee post got me to thinking about the song “Black Coffee,” and I started seeking out versions of it. My friend Leslie Castay sings the shit out of it, and she does it in her new cabaret show, Leslie Castay…unscripted. And I think my friend Lisa Picone brewed up a version of it for her Peggy Lee show, Lisa Sings Lee. (Lisa, if ya didn’t, ya shoulda.) But here are four classic versions by four classic torchy dames: Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Julie London, and Sarah Vaughn. “You like my girls? I love them all!”
Here’s Ella. Pure as honey. Nice and easy. Her voice pours out of her, and her phrasing is impeccable.
Peggy’s is sassier and brassier. “Black COWfee…” She’s making love to that mic, and you can feel it.
Julie’s is gritty and almost whispered. It’s sexy, but you gotta lean in to hear her through the horns.
And Sarah…ooh. Sarah’s low, baby. She got hurt, and there ain’t enough coffee in the world to fix it.
So, which one makes you want another cup?