Obscure & Neglected Female Singers Of Jazz & Standards (1930s to 1960s)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Ridin'High, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. Nathan Aaron

    Nathan Aaron Forum Resident

    - Wow! Excellent! I’ve never seen an original Beverly Kenney album whatsoever out in the wild! Luck was on your side!
     
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  2. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    I've been looking for a real Beverly Kenney Decca for over 30 years, but not at auction prices. If you want good karma, I will send you my mailing address.
     
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  3. Fender Relic

    Fender Relic Forum Resident

    Location:
    Central PA
    I don't know about good karma but a good trade never hurt anybody:hugs: Just sayin'...my Blue Note original vinyl want list is long :winkgrin:
     
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  4. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    I hate to say that I let my complete collection of first edition Blue notes (and many 10 inch LPs too) go for next to nothing many years ago. That makes me feel bad today.
     
  5. Fender Relic

    Fender Relic Forum Resident

    Location:
    Central PA
    I feel your pain but my vinyl want list is large in general so... I hope you didn't sell all your vinyl :yikes:
     
  6. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    I'm not that crazy about Beverley Kenney, although I understand those who do.

    I cannot compare these releases with the latest from Spain, at least for the time being...
    At the moment, I listened attentively to them all:
    'Sings for Johnny Smith' and 'Come Swing With Me' sounds at the level of "Very Good" - spacious and clear with well-presented bass. I have to cut a few points due to the tiny brightness of the trebles in vocals.
    'Sings With Jimmy Jones' came one grade higher with an overall more airy sound, deeper bass and less noticeable vocal brightness, bordering on the "Best" category.

    In general, the airiness of sound is the strongest side of this "Jazz Masters Collection 1200" series (whether Mono or Stereo). Warner put his hands on the Original Master tapes... I think this is a flat transfer from OMT (by Parlophone), reflecting good recording quality, plus Japanese SHM limited pressing. The price is low, but the packaging is cheap, though.

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    Some of her songs I love much more than the others:



    Beverly Kenney - Moe's Blues

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    Can't Get out of This Mood

    Old Buttermilk Sky

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    Beverly Kenney - It Ain't Necessarily So
     
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  7. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    Thank you. My offhand guess is that the sound on these SHM-CDs is probably identical to the sound of previous non SHM Japan issues that came in mini-LP covers

    One never knows where Fresh Sounds gets their source material or what their sound mastering may be. At any rate, Fresh Sound is a superb label for fans of vintage vocalists
     
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  8. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    Those Mini LPs were released by EMI in 2012-13 - since then everything has changed.

    What actually happened. After Uni and EMI merged together, Euro Commission ordered them to sell some labels. Warner received EMI's assets (I read it on the Warner Japan site). Parlophone, Jubilee, Roulette, Roost, Colpix - all are belong to Warner now... They wanted to show that it's for good...
    I'm sure they invested in new equipment to help Parlophone with a new remaster of over 300 jazz titles. Parlophone made even Warner's Atlantic, Atco titles in this series - they have a good mastering team.
    I'm sure Warner will continue, but I'm not sure how... They count sales numbers now to make decision how to proceed...

    From the very beginning the series didn't move much. But soon people realized that this was a great value. I thought: buy-not-to-buy, but after a few months, I see it's damn melting down... by the end of the year, retailers swept the rest while they didn't pay attention to them before.

    I'll post the entire List of vocal titles in yet another post. Stay tuned...

    P.S.
    I have plans to re-listen and evaluate all of Fresh Sound and Jazz Vocal Mini LP titles I have and post result here.
     
  9. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    Happy to report, Etta Jones Sings with Junior Mance, Kenny Burrel, Frank Wess, Joe Newman and Milt Hilton from the Warner Japan "Jazz Masters Collection 1200" series entered the "Best" category in SQ outperforming all titles I mentioned before with better dynamics and clarity.

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    Great Etta Jones:

    Etta Jones - Don't Misunderstand

    Something To Remember You By Etta Jones

    Etta was one more singer who was heavily influenced and adored Billie Holiday:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP97iBFNdiY
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
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  10. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    There are some albums that everyone who hangs out on this thread should have, regardless of whether we have money for this or not.
    One of these albums is pictured here, but I want to tell more about it:
     
  11. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

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    Monica Lewis
    (1922–2015)


    "Monica Lewis, not to be confused with Monica Lewinsky (one all for the marines, the other for the president)." -- Ridin'High




    RidingHigh! It's absolutely right: Monica Lewis was not for the presidents:
    In her 2011 book 'Hollywood Through My Eyes', Monica Lewis revealed that actor (and future president) Ronald Reagan had proposed to her. However, Lewis declined Reagan's marriage proposal.

    It's no wonder that Ronald Reagan fell for her, who wouldn't? What a photogenic beauty she was...

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    "For almost two decades, Monica Lewis was the idealized, wholesomely sexy sound and image of apple-pie America, lending a curvaceous, dimpled smile and melodious voice of hope to thousands of U.S. troops through two of the 20th century's greatest wars. She starred on the very first "Ed Sullivan Show" telecast, had numerous hit records including "Put the Blame on Mame", "A Tree in the Meadow", "A Kiss to Build a Dream On", "Autumn Leaves" and "I Wish You Love", and provided the memorable singing voice for the popular cartoon character, "Miss Chiquita Banana".

    Monica's course to classic song-styling was set as a child. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of three children of musical parents. Her father, Abe, was a symphonic composer and pianist, and her mother, Jessica, sang with the Chicago Opera Company. After the Great Depression forced the Lewis clan to relocate from Chicago to New York City, there was no shortage of sibling rivalry: Monica's sister, Barbara Lewis, established herself as an accomplished concert pianist, while her brother TV producer, Merlo Lewis, co-created landmark television show, The Ed Sullivan Show (1948).

    Having studied voice with her mother since a mere toddler, Monica quit junior college at 17 to work as a radio vocalist, changing her name from May to Monica, telling The NY Times that "I feel much more like Monica and I look much more like Monica, too". In the mid-1940s, she had her own program on WMCA. This and other early airwaves successes led to her debut at Manhattan's legendary Stork Club.


    In 1943, Monica been told that Benny Goodman needed a singer since Peggy Lee had left due to the marriage to his guitarist. At an audition with hundreds of women participating, Lewis earned the part as a singer and began to sing with Goodman's orchestra. She quickly ascended as a radio vocalist and co-host on programs including "Beat the Band", "The Revere Camera Hour" and "The Chesterfield Show", sharing the microphone with Frank Sinatra. She became one of the country's highest-flying songbirds, working with record labels such as Signature, Decca, Jubilee, Capitol and Verve to create numerous timeless hits and classic albums. However, Lewis' parents did not allow her to perform on the tours.

    Monica eagerly volunteered her talent for the war effort, becoming the darling of U.S. servicemen worldwide through the war bond drive, military radio broadcasts and a 1951 USO tour of South Korea with celebrated entertainer Danny Kaye.
    When she married colorful and innovative MCA/Universal Studios production executive Jennings Lang in 1956, she not only became his partner but the mother of his young children: Michael, now a jazz pianist, and Robert, an attorney. Monica and Jennings had a third child together, Rocky Lang, now a noted Hollywood writer, director and producer.


    In addition to a recording career, Monica Lewis had roles in numerous Hollywood movies and TV shows. In the 1950s she appeared in pictures with Red Skelton (Eat My Dust), Mickey Rooney (The Strip) and Barry Sullivan (Inside Straight). Much later in 70's she had parts in the feature films Earthquake, Airport and its sequels, plus Nunzio and The Sting II.
    Her TV work included guest-starring roles on the series Wagon Train, Night Gallery, The Virginian, Marcus Welby, M.D., Remington Steele, Ironside and Falcon Crest.


    In the 1980s and 1990s, Monica made a few choice cabaret appearances and recorded several new albums, among them "My Favorite Things", "Monica Lewis Swings Jule Styne" and "Why Did I Choose You?", a tribute to her 40-year marriage to Lang. Monica wrote a photo-filled memoir, "Hollywood Through My Eyes".

    Monica Lewis died two years ago at the age of 93.
    To her last days Monica "interacts personally with her fans daily via Facebook and Twitter, and she maintains an online archive at her own website. Fabulous and talented lady!"

    Young singers still remember her helpful advises.

    I have this CD:

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    Sings Songs Of Love (Sepia 2005)

    From this CD I learned how Monica Lewis slowly year by year developed her own style:

    1946

    1947
    Monica Lewis - It Had To Be You
    1950
    Nevertheless (1950) - Monica Lewis and The Crew Chiefs
    1953
    Don't Make Me Love You
    Autumn Leaves
    1954
    If I Give My Heart To You (1954) - Monica Lewis
    1955
    I Wish You Love

    Closer to 1956, Monica reached the pinnacle of mastery in jazz singing, which few could do.
    To better explain what I mean, I would compare her vocal with the hand of Caravaggio or Velasquez in the art of painting.
    All that she recorded earlier was just a prelude to her album. And the bar was raised so high that almost every song surpassed any existing version of the famous jazz masters. This is her "mother's lessons" album, which proved that her mom, Jessica Lewis, was not accidentally called "the best vocal teacher in the city".
    In her own style, which later was called "classic song style" by critics, Monica created an album that is nothing, but ...
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  12. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

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    But Beautiful



    "I left my career when I knew what to do and how to do it.
    I wanted to have a baby and be a mother of two boys whose mother died..." -- Monica Lewis (from the interview)




    Deepness and ambiance of her voice is simply stunning.



    You Don't Know What Love Is
    Monica Lewis - You Don't Know What Love Is
    Fools Rush In (The best version ever recorded!)
    Monica Lewis - Fools Rush In
    But Not For Me
    Monica Lewis - But Not For Me
    Monica Lewis - People Will Say We're In Love
    Title track:
    Monica Lewis - But Beautiful

    "Such albums as Monica Lewis "But the Beautiful" are a National Treasure and (with the help of the government) must be remastered to the best available sound quality and reprinted on the basis of the best possible quality of materials, and distributed among all libraries. They should be studied in all music schools and conservatories throughout the country." (Toilet Doctors Association)

    It seems that the Japanese read the Bulletin of the Toilet Doctors Association with much greater advantage than the Americans. Because they have already made a new remaster "to the best available sound quality" on the SHM, while our Committee members are still scratching their heads.

    Yes, Warner Japan released this album with a new remaster and a SHM pressing in their Limited "Jazz Master Collection 1200" series. And I'm very happy to report that this album has surpassed any other album in this series, I've already tried.

    I compared it to my "Diamond Voices of 50's" reference CD by STS Digital, a small Holland label specializing in a very limited edition of demo and reference CDs. It was easy on the same level with sound quality, being tree time cheaper. The sound of this disc is so smooth and balanced, and natural - it's just breathtaking! (I put it for my friend, and I watched him open his mouth, but did not say a word).

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    How did this magic happen? I think that the Parlophon's remastering team had an exceptional quality master tape on hands (thanks to Jubilee Records).
    Nevertheless, I have a lot of 'Jubilee' albums in the same Warner "Jazz Masters Collection 1200" series, but they do not sound like that. Why?
    Simply, Monica Lewis inspired not only the musicians, but also the recording engineers.
    She inspired them to create a record on the level with her performance... and they did it!

    Thank you, Monica, thank you guys from Jubilee and Parlophone - you created an extraordinary record for future generations and a CD, while Mono sounds better than many stereo CDs recorded 60 years later.

    The album firmly took its place in the category "Best" with an outstanding sound quality.

    Monica Lewis is not for the presidents, Monica Lewis is for us.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  13. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    You rather run, guys, and order this CD - only 3 lucky men will have it for the retail price:
    MONICA LEWIS-BUT BEAUTIFUL-JAPAN SHM-CD Ltd/Ed C15 4943674236299 | eBay
     
  14. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    I would return that sweater. It is obviously too big.
     
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  15. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

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  16. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    It was her "mom's lessons" album and... it was her mom's sweater. She was wearing it as a talisman for good luck during the recording sessions. Shoes were also borrowed from her mother's wardrobe, but they also were too big and slipped away, as you can see in the picture. Fortunately, skirt was perfect and stayed in place. She was very kind and funny girl...
    I wish she'd made at least one more record for us on a hunch in 1956.
     
  17. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    Thank you for info. I read it with great interest. I remember that I posted his interview with Anne Phillips (Post #1158) - he is very good.
    Unfortunately, we cannot discuss Chris Connor here, but we can post some information about the new releases, speaking of which:

    Off topic info:
    Warner Japan released 4 Atlantic and 2 Roulette (Live) Chris Connor albums in the "Jazz Masters Collection 1200" series. Here they are with SQ rating:

    Atlantic
    Misty - Best
    Portrait of Chris Connor - Best
    Chris Craft - Very Good
    Chris Connor - Good*

    Roulette
    At the Village Gate - Very Good
    A Weekend in Paris - Very Good

    * Chris Connor S/T album has some flow: a sound drop in one channel in Track 3 and 5 - Chris here sounds like she's standing behind the stage. Otherwise, it could be in the "Very Good" section.

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    First I tried the SHM releases. Then I put Complete Singles Blue Moon, Spain new release (a very nice digipak edition, by the way). 24 singles sounded mostly at the level of "Very Good", while some of them are only "Good" with less clear sound.
    Some vocal brightness (more or less) can be heard in all releases. In albums Misty and Portrait it was almost unnoticeable.
    Then I again put SHM: they all sounded more precise, crispier with better separation between the instruments - this is a major difference, immediately noticeable.
    I'd say that Complete Singles sounded absolutely fine, but (in comparison) SHM makes them seem slightly muffled.

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    The last two SHM releases are still available for $ 10.75 in Japan:
    CDJapan : Search result by ( Chris Connor SHM ) OR "Chris Connor SHM"
    Some can be found on eBay.
    (One more SHM release of Roulette album "Two's Company" has been cancelled).

    In addition, it's worth to check out the new Chris Connor releases w/2017 remastering by independent Japanese label Solid Records in the newest UHQCD (Ultimate High Quality CD) format (improved SHM by adding one more Photopolymer layer).

    (from the UHQCD thread)
    Bethlehem Premium Essential UHQCD Series
    Chris (1954) - Best/Very Good
    Lullabys of Birdland (1954) - Very Good
    This Is Chris (1955) - Very Good

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    All 3 UHQCDs were recently released and still available in Japan for retail of $16.12
    http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/searches?term.media_format=&f=major&q=Chris+Connor+UHQCD&f=major&q=&f=major&q=&order=scoreboost_cdj&range.rel=&range.sale_price=&term.caption=&term.audio_language=
    (please press "Submit" button).
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  18. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    This has become essentially the central thread for female vocalists, and I think that any such quality singer should be open for posts. Other threads on such singers receive extremely little attention or are dead.

    I just broke into a crowded aisle in my record library that I have not been able to access for several years and re-discovered hundreds of vocal LPs that I purchased years back that were never filed, including a large number of vocalist 10 inch LPs.
     
  19. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Active Member



    Lorez Alexandria does it for me...
     
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  20. Reader

    Reader Forum Resident

    Location:
    e.s.t. tenn.
    That sounds like fun. It's always great to find things you forgot you had. No guilt for money long ago spent and going through things you'd wanted and already have. Have fun and play them loud!
     
  21. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    If Ridin'High still alive we should talk to him to reconsider some rules.
    At list to eliminate one of them:
    If there is already existed thread about the artist, we cannot discuss her.
    There is a thread... Who cares!
    We have our endless Reference Thread and all Obscured and Neglected ladies supposed to be here.
    (Our thread is endless because of new releases...)
    Ridin'High should define only non Obscure and non Neglected and such - that's it.
     
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  22. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    Rules? Again, it is only frequent posting that keeps threads open and active for communication. Any restrictions, other than common courtesy and respect for others opinions, only diminishes communication and participation. Everyone who sings jazz or pop in the jazz vein is obscure today. Even Bing Crosby.

    Just post away.
     
  23. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor Forum Resident

    (from the comment)
    "America's most gifted, and underrated jazz vocalists—this particular artist takes the cake—not meaning the particular term in a negative connotation, but it's such a pity that a remarkable songstress—the incomparable, Lorez Alexandria is not afforded the recognition that she so deserves. This is proven true, given the fact that I recently discovered her albums—and I just haven't had my fill. I've searched and purchased everything I could find from such a gifted songstress. Lorez crafts each lyric with such grace and tonality that could easily match (if not surpass) the reigning jazz stylists of the bop/jazz/pop age. She gives each standard a new sense of evocative meaning as far as lyrics are concerned, and reinvents the wheel each time she unleashes her enthralling voice. As she once said "A lyric is dead, until you breathe life into it." This is exactly what she does."

    Lorez Alexandria -- I'm Through With Love (1964)
     
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  24. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    I found this EP among the stash in my overcrowded aisle. This is her great session with Clifford Brown

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  25. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Active Member

    I prefer her to ANY and I mean ANY female vocalist. She's the only one that gives me goose bumps. Her enunciation, phrasing and musicality is always perfect.
     
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