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Past Your Ears: Recordings you need to hear that you may have missed

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Jesse Belvin

Mr. Easy

Released 1960

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The brilliant, yet little known, Mr. Easy was recorded fifty years ago by R&B songwriter Jesse Belvin. The release came when African-American recording artists struggled to be heard. A few like Nat King Cole & Sam Cooke caught the mainstream, while talented others like Belvin never broke through.

Belvin's performances work seamlessly with the sharp accompaniment of horns and a full orchestra. His ice-smooth jazz vocals are highlighted from classics ballads like "Imagination" and "In the Still of the Night" to the spunky "The Best is Yet to Come" and "Makin' Whoopee!" Even though Belvin was a successful songwriter on his own, penning the huge seller "Earth Angel," he chose standards by Cole Porter and Bo Diddley among others on this recording to showcase his dynamic vocal ability. Think of him as a soulful Frank Sinatra.

Sadly, Jesse Belvin never heard Mr. Easy as he died tragically at 27 in a car accident reportedly caused by race-based foul play. You need to have this recording in your ears not only for its musical merit, but also as an important reference in modern music history.


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