Friday, March 5, 2010
Helen MERRILL - Dream Of You 1956
A fine singer with a warm, expressive voice, Helen Merrill's infrequent recordings tend to be quite special with plenty of surprises and chance-taking. She started singing in public in 1944 and was with the Reggie Childs Orchestra during 1946-1947. Merrill, who was married for a period to clarinetist Aaron Sachs, had opportunities to sit in with some of the top modernists of the time, including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Bud Powell. She was with Earl Hines in 1952 and started recording regularly for EmArcy in 1954. Her collaboration with Clifford Brown was her first classic. She made several notable EmArcy albums during 1954-1958 (including **DREAM OF YOU** in 1956 that helped bring Gil Evans out of retirement); all have been reissued in a large box. After recording for Atco and Metrojazz in 1959, she moved to Italy for the next four years, touring often in Europe and Japan. Back in the U.S., Merrill teamed with pianist/arranger Dick Katz for a pair of notable and unpredictable Milestone dates (1967-1968) and then moved to Japan where she was quite popular. Helen Merrill returned to the United States in the mid-'70s and has since recorded for Inner City, Owl, EmArcy (including a reunion date with Gil Evans) Antilles, and Verve, which released her 2000 album Jelena Ana Milcetic a.k.a. Helen Merrill.
By Scott Yanow, All Music Guide.
Of all the white and female cool jazz singers to emerge in the '50s, the moon-voiced Helen Merrill is the probably the least known. She is also the best of a group that includes June Christy and Chris Connor, not to mention a more limited talented like Julie London. Though Merrill's self-titled debut album (with trumpeter Clifford Brown) is a solidly enduring effort, 1956's DREAM OF YOU (arranged by Gil Evans in his first album-length assignment), established the singer as a major jazz artist.
As produced by the always commercially minded Bob Shad of Emarcy Records, the session isn't a particularly forbidding one; it's just arranged, played and sung with the utmost integrity. Helen Merrill has an endearing Marilyn Monroe-like breathy quality to her voice that lends even her most sinewey, technically demanding post-bop lines the repressed yet erotic quality of a true '50s pop singer. No mean dreamer himself, Evans made his floating brass choirs pungent enough to keep Merrill's swoons and flights of pure technique earthbound. These two romantics liked the experience so much that they repeated it 30 years later, note for note, on an album called COLLABORATION. But the first time was youthful artistry personified.
Helen Merrill- (Vocals);
Gil Evans- (Arranger);
Jerome Richardson- (Alto & Tenor Sax, Flute);
John LaPorta- (Alto Sax, clarinet);
Danny Bank- (Baritone Sax);
Art Farmer, Louis Mucci- (Trumpets);
Joe Bennett, Jimmy Cleveland- (Trombones);
Hank Jones- (Piano);
Barry Galbraith- (Guitar);
Oscar Pettiford- (Bass);
Joe Morello- (Drums).
A1. People Will Say We're in Love 2:28
A2. By Myself 3:20
A3. Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home 4:00
A4. I've Never Seen 3:34
A5. He Was Too Good to Me 2:58
A6. A New Town Is a Blue Town 3:08
B1. You're Lucky to Me 3:25
B2. Where Flamingos Fly 2:45
B3. Dream of You
B4. I'm a Fool to Want You 4:04
B5. I'm Just a Lucky So and So 3:09
B6. Troubled Waters 3:13