This is a look at some bluesy-jazzy wimmin singers and musicians who rock my world, musical foremothers whose voices echo as strongly today as they did decades ago. Crooners, shouters, songwriters and bandleaders, sirens and songbirds of years gone by... Let's get hep!
Connie Haines "Singin' And Swingin' " (Collector's Choice, 2001)
The squeeky-voiced Connie Haines played opposite young Frank Sinatra in Tommy Dorsey's early '40s orchestra: Ole Blue Eyes sang the schmaltzy romantic material and Connie -- in an interesting gender turnaround -- sang the uptempo, bluesy "rhythm" numbers. This disc collects some of her best live performances on various radio dates. Lotsa fun stuff, including a couple of tracks with Dorsey's crack vocal ensemble, the Pied Pipers, and plenty of punchy big band arrangements to back her up. Since Dorsey ran such a tight, professional organization, these live performances aren't much different than the studio versions that are out on other Dorsey collections. But this album does focus in on Haines herself -- a long overdue recognition of her talent, and it's pretty enjoyable from beginning to end. Recommended!
Connie Haines "Nightingale From Savannah" (Sepia Recordings, 2008)
Connie Haines "The Heart And Soul Of Connie" (Audiophile, 2008)
With the Russ Case orchestra...
Connie Haines "...Sings A Tribute To Helen Morgan" (1957)
Adelaide Hall "Crooning Blackbird: 1927-1939" (EPM Jazz Archives, 1992)
One of the first female star jazz vocalists, the trilling, songbirdish Adelaide Hall came to fame as a lead player in the early stage productions of Sissle & Blake, starring in several black musical revues of the 1920s. She recorded with Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and a young Art Tatum, and toured Europe extensively, eventually finding a berth at the fabled Moulin Rouge music hall in Gay Paris. Hall's vocal style may be a bit prim and proper for most jazz fans -- like Ethel Waters, she skirted the divide between art songs and the blues, while perhaps overemphasizing each style just a tad. I like her bluesy tunes well enough, but when she drifts towards the more florid pop-operatic style that became her metier, I start to tune out. This generously programmed 26-song CD gives a great picture of this somewhat neglected pioneering vocalist, and yet, it must be said, there may be a reason why her legacy has suffered -- Hall's style was pretty prissy-sounding and mannered, and may wear thin after a while. It's worth checking out, but the results are variable.
Adelaide Hall "Hall Of Fame" (ASV-Living Era, 1992)
Adelaide Hall "Red Hot From Harlem" (Pearl, 1994)
Adelaide Hall "A Centenary Celebration" (Avid, 2002)
A 2-CD set...
Annette Hanshaw "The Girl Next Door" (Take Two, 1993)
Perhaps more of a novelty singer than a torch or jazz stylist, Annette Hanshaw nonetheless had a pleasant appeal, an interesting admixture of unabashed cuteness and sly worldliness that seemed perfectly in tune with the devil-may-care, Fitzgeraldian whoopdedoo of the 1920s Jazz Age, when her star was in full swing. Hanshaw started singing professionally right at the tail end of the pre-Depression era, and rode high during the early years of the crash... You can easily see why, her squeaky, Helen Kane-ish voice is a simple delight, joyful and unpretentious, and particularly appealing when backed by some of the top jazz sessionmen of the time, folks such as Bunny Berrigan, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Joe Venuti and others... Originally issued as a vinyl LP in the 1980s, this set bears the usual Take Two label stamp of enthusiasm and authenticity, and has fine sound quality as well. For a nice nostalgic slice of old-fashioned, innocent pop-jazz vocals, this disc's a doozy.
Annette Hanshaw "Lovable And Sweet: 25 Vintage Hits" (ASV-Living Era, 1997)
Annette Hanshaw "The Twenties Sweetheart" (Jasmine, 2004)
Annette Hanshaw "It Was So Beautiful: Annette Hanshaw's Final Recordings" (Sounds Of Yesteryear, 2003)
Marion Harris "Look For The Silver Lining" (ASV Living Era, 2006)
Marion Harris "The Complete Victor Releases" (Archeophone, 2005)
Marion Harris "The Very Best Of" (Master Classics, 2009)
Marion Harris "1916-1919 Master Recordings" (Master Classics Recordings, 2010)
Lucille Hegamin "Complete Recorded Works, v.1: 1920-1922" (Document, 1995)
Lucille Hegamin "Complete Recorded Works, v.2: 1922-1923" (Document, 1995)
Lucille Hegamin "Complete Recorded Works, v.3: 1923-1932" (Document, 1995)
Lucille Hegamin "Complete Recorded Works, v.4: 1920-1926" (Document, 1998)
Rosa Henderson "Complete Recorded Works, v.1: 1923" (Document, 1995)
Rosa Henderson "Complete Recorded Works, v.2: 1924" (Document, 1995)
Rosa Henderson "Complete Recorded Works, v.3: 1924-1926" (Document, 1995)
Rosa Henderson "Complete Recorded Works, v.4: 1926-1931" (Document, 1995)
Rosa Henderson "1921-1931" (Retrieval, 1999)
Rosa Henderson "The Essential Rosa Henderson" (Classic Blues, 2001)
Edna Hicks "Complete Recorded Works, v.1: 1923" (Document, 1995)
Edna Hicks "Complete Recorded Works, v.1: 1923-1927" (Document, 1995)
The remainder of Edna Hicks' work; six more songs with additional tracks by Hazel Meyer and Laura Smith to round things out...
Hildegarde "Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup" (ASV-Living Era, 1995)
One of the great American cabaret artists, Wisconsin-born Hildegarde Loretta Sell had a European air about her, partly because she toured extensively and recorded on numerous dates with European musicians, particularly British bandleaders such as Carroll Gibbons and various BBC house bands. These two albums collect some of the best of these recordings...
Hildegarde "I'm Going To See You Today" (Dutton Vocalion, 2000)
Bertha 'Chippie' Hill "Complete Recorded Works: 1925-1929" (Document, 1995)
Billie Holiday - see artist profile
Camille Howard "Volume One: Rock Me Daddy" (Specialty, 1993)
Camille Howard "Volume Two: X-Temporaneous Boogie" (Specialty, 1993)
Helen Humes "Be-Baba-Leba: 1944-52" (Whiskey, Women And..., 1983)
Sexy, sassy, saucy blues tunes sung by singer-pianist Helen Humes, at the peak of her powers, playing hip jump blues and R&B with a delicacy that belies the raciness of the lyrical content. This 16-song collection includes several sizzling live tracks that show the crowds going completely koo-koo over Ms. Humes... and understandably so: she surges with charismatic power and sexual energy. Musicians on the various sessions include Red Callendar, Dexter Gordon, Willie Smith, Lester Young, and others. This is really fun stuff... highly recommended!
Helen Humes "The Chronological Helen Humes: 1927-1945" (Classics, 1996)
This disc opens with a series of remarkably lively blues tunes Humes recorded in 1927, when she was just thirteen years old, and tracks her through the early 1940s, when she went solo after several years singing with swing bands such as the Basie Orchestra. The closing number, "Be-Baba-Leba," was her signature song, the bit hit that made her reputation as a first-tier jazz/R&B singer. Great stuff!
Helen Humes "The Chronological Helen Humes: 1945-1947" (Classics, 1999)
This is Humes at her peak, mostly crooning and playing it cool in an Ella-like way, sometimes cutting loose with her brand of rollicking, good-humored boogie and R&B. I prefer her uptempo stuff -- the songs are generally more fun and the results are more reliable. Occasionally, the backing musicians can sound a little slack, and it's more noticeable on slower numbers, although her vocals are always nice. This includes winners such as "They Raided The Joint," "Voo-It," "Be Ba Ba Le Ba Boogie" and a cool version of "See, See, Rider." Lots of sexual innuendo and celebration of hep-cat culture, with only a couple of sub-par songs (such as "Jet Propelled Papa...") All in all, a nice set that captures the flavor of the era, including lots of groovy pre-rock'n'roll party music.
Helen Humes "The Chronological Helen Humes: 1948-1950" (Classics)
Helen Humes "Let The Good Times Roll: The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions" (Black & Blue, 1973)
Helen Humes "Sneakin' Around: The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions" (Black & Blue, 2002)
Alberta Hunter & Lovie Austin "Chicago -- The Living Legends" (Riverside, 1961)
Betty Hutton - see artist profile
Mrs. Jack Hylton "She Shall Have Music" (Dutton-Vocalion, 2002)
One of the few British women to have a band of her own -- at least nominally -- Ennis Parkes, aka Mrs. Jack Hylton, was the wife of bandleader Jack Hylton, one of the big stars of the 1930's "sweet-band" era. She had on-again, off-again health problems that sidelined her career, first in the late 1920s and again in the late '30s, but still managed to front a lively dance band that also incorporated a lot of comedic material taken from the English music-hall tradition. This album collects a bunch of singles from a 1935-36 contract with the Crown record label, and reflects the variety of material her band covered. Mrs. Hylton sings on only a handful of songs (generally in a rather prim, almost matronly style) while featured vocalists in the other tracks include Jimmy Miller, Chick Smith and Leslie Brian, who all sing with the sweet, geefy charm of the time. The liner notes allude to the "complicated" personal life of the Hyltons, but doesn't elaborate... it's all old gossip now, I guess. Anyway, this is a nice set of giddy, genteel old British dance music, with plenty of novelty tunes and sentimental numbers. Nice stuff for the style.
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