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

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

  1. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor "Rockin' chair's got me"

    Location:
    USA
    [​IMG]


    Charlene Bartley - a story of the criminal negligence and deep under-appreciation



    Dec 2, 1956: Charlene Bartley, Don Alessi at the Jewel Room

    "One of my favorite “lost” Boston records is Charlene Bartley’s The Weekend of a Private Secretary, originally released in 1957 (RCA LPM-1478). It’s the story in songs of a woman who weekends in Havana, finds romance (c’mon now, it’s the fifties), and returns home sadder but wiser. Bartley and the album’s guitarist, Don Alessi, were working the singers’ rooms in Boston prior to the record’s release, and an important one was the Jewel Room in the Bostonian Hotel, now part of the Berklee College of Music.

    Bartley hailed from Los Angeles, and it was bandleader Al Donahue who initially brought her back East. The Boston-born Donahue hired Bartley in California in late 1947. They recorded a few sides on the Tune-Disk label just before the second recording ban took effect, and at least one of them, “My Old Fashioned Gal,” ended up on the Boston Crystal-Tone label (Crystal-Tone 523) in 1948. Donahue was back in Boston, with Bartley singing, in 1949.

    Bartley toured with Donahue in the early 1950s, but she apparently gave up the road to settle in Boston. Donahue made an annual stop in Boston for a long residence at the Statler Hotel, and Bartley sang with him there through 1957. She also recorded a forgettable single on his Aldon Records label in 1956, but by that time she was on the staff at Boston’s WHDH-AM. There she met guitarist Don Alessi, one of the Park Squares, a vocal-and-instrumental group then providing music on both radio and television broadcasts.

    The Park Squares were real pros, playing everything from The New England Farm and Food Show in the afternoon, to John McLellan’s Jazz Scene in the evening. One of the shows Alessi worked was with Charlene Bartley, One to Two, on WHDH-AM. That’s when she came to the attention of someone from A&R at RCA.

    RCA brought some of its leading talent to the project, with four songs arranged by Tito Puente and performed by his orchestra, four more arranged by Hal McKusick and performed by a small group, and the final four performed by just the duo of Alessi and bassist Milt Hinton. Alessi, in fact, played on all twelve numbers. The title tune, backed by Puente’s orchestra, has a catchy rhythm to go with Johnny Mercer’s lyrics, but for the most part Bartley sings ballads, including “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance,” and “Memories of You.”

    Then the Bartley story took a mysterious turn - she dropped from sight after the summer of 1958. I have no idea what became of her. If anybody knows, please leave a comment.

    The Weekend of a Private Secretary went out of print and did not resurface until 2007, when it was reissued on CD by BMG-Japan, released as part of a series featuring the RCA vocalists. Now that, too, is out of print." (Richard Vacca, Dec. 2, 2013)


    This story didn't end here. In 2013 the album was re-released by LP Time Records, Spain, famous for the exceptional quality of their releases with new Remaster in Mini LP CD format. (Most of their releases were distributed in Japan as a Limited Ed. They're matched to the quality of the Japanese Mini LPs, having laminate covers with OBI, inserts with liner notes, fabric/clear plastic inner sleeves and also black, vinyl like, discs).

    Yesterdays I was happy to nail down a new copy at Amazon France for 19.90 Euros:
    Charlene Bartley The Weekend of a Private Secretary LP Time 2013 8427328212069

    (CD cover with unfolded OBI)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Yes, I was very lucky, because Charlene had a voice for which many ladies from our non-Neglected list would kill for. This is the one of the voices that I listen to once a week as a medicine to cleanse my soul of all these dirt accumulating during the week.

    Description
    Charlene Bartley(vo), Don Aless(b), Milt Hinton,(b), Tito Puentes Orchestra, Hal McKusicks Orchestra Recorded in New York, 1957. Originally issued on RCA Victor LPM-1478. Digitally remastered 24 bit / 96 kHz High Fidelity Recording.

    Review:
    "What a fantastic oddity that I had no idea existed, it's a catchy cool exotic sounding easy listening album. It's like the stuff that would play in a super hip martini lounge, and not only is it unique but it has substance too. The lyrics on this album are remarkably sharp and witty and unexpected, really quite a surprising treat. Not to mention Charlene has a very sweet voice that perfectly complements the hipness and style of the music. The songs are often clever little stories that get more intriguing the more you listen, although this instantly did stand out as a load of fun. The instrumentation is somewhere between easy listening, exotica and lounge, this is what Beck would have made if he were a lady making music in 1957, I'm almost sure of it. Actually upon further research I realize that her backing group included Doc Severinsen, Tito Puente so no wonder it's fantastic. It's seemingly simple, yet the combination of things manages to sound unlike anything else, and it's a shame because if this style had caught on, I'd have a hell of a lot more things to purchase. As is this is ridiculously out of print and impossible to find, so I'm so grateful to the blog that had this posted. It's hard to pick highlights from a great album, but I guess "She Didn't Say Yes", "The Weekend Of A Private Secretary", and "Orchids In The Moonlight" would be my favorites. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something a little different but entirely easy to listen to."

    That's for Me
    She Didn't Say Yes
    Moon Over Miami
    I've Got a Crush on You
    Mixed Emotions

    I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance

    Orchids in the Moonlight
    Charlene Bartley - Orchids in the Moonlight
    Under a Blanket of Blue
    Charlene Bartley - Under a Blanket of Blue
    We'll Be Together Again
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1svPXhschI

    Sand in My Shoes
    Memories of You
    Charlene Bartley - Memories Of You

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
    Mylene, Eric Carlson and Tribute like this.
  2. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    NS, Canada
    I wonder if someone on this thread would tell me why Art & Dotty Todd have never had a cd release of what must at least have been an album's worth of material recorded in the 1950s?

    The very well-known Chanson D'amour has appeared on many cd VA compilations, but nothing else.

    For example Broken Wings?



    I know they as performers are not really jazz, and may not have sung a lot of 'standards', but I'm guessing habitués of this thread might have some idea as to why they are neglected?

    Wikipedia has a small page on their career. No reference to any recording after the 1950s. :(
     
  3. Jbeck57143

    Jbeck57143 Forum Resident

    Location:
    IL, USA
    I received the Stan Kenton CD "Stan's Singers Volume 2" (which has one Helen Carr performance) from Amazon, but it's a cdr copy. There was no mention of that on Amazon's listing for it.

    City Hall Records at:
    Globe Records - Product Report: 2052900200812

    (They also sell on Music Stack) has 27 copies of it, but they have less than 10 copies of most of the other Stan Kenton CDs that are about as old as this one (which is from 2008) or older. I emailed them to see if they know if their copies are also cdrs, which seems likely if they have that many copies, but so few copies of most of their other Stan Kenton CDs.

    I'm thinking of ordering it from CD Universe, but they might only have cdr copies as well.

    The first CD - "Stan's Singers" - has become very hard to find. Amazon canceled my order for it because it was unavailable. I was able to order it from another seller but it cost a lot more. (It hasn't arrived yet).
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
  4. Eric Carlson

    Eric Carlson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Valley Center, KS
    I'm going through CDs trying to get them organized and happened upon Joni James again. Yes, she is lovely, but I've tried and tried on both CD and LP and I still don't enjoy her singing either. At least on In the Still of the Night nice material, well orchestrated, but for some reason it doesn't move me as it must have millions of listeners. Her voice seems very "girlish" which just isn't what I want I guess. She also warbles on many notes which drives me crazy. Sings Young/Loesser and Kern/Warren are very similar. They sound nice, they are very pleasant and dreamy, although exceptionally slow paced. Her voice is sometimes endearing here but that's the best I can really say about her for me. Many of these songs might be pretty nice for slow dancing though. I think I might be starting to like this one.

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    I think Joni is a sweet and relaxing singer. I don't insist that someone be the "best" to be able to enjoy their singing. Her personality must have been magnetic, as so many millions seriously enjoyed her at a time when there were hundreds of phenomenal singers on the scene. She did choose good material to sing.

    She was also very smart. She retained ownership of her master recordings, which few singers (even Sinatra) managed to achieve.
     
  6. Jbeck57143

    Jbeck57143 Forum Resident

    Location:
    IL, USA
    I found another song written by Helen Carr and recorded by another artist: "Wanderin' Eyes".

    I don't know when she wrote it, or which artists recorded it, other than Jimmie Rodgers. His recording was released in 1962 on the Roulette label (Roulette 4439). The A -side was "You Are Everything to Me", "Wanderin' Eyes" was the B-side.

    It's on the CD "Complete Us & Uk Singles As & BS 1957-62":
    Wanderin' Eyes - Jimmie Rodgers | Song Info | AllMusic

    Here it is on YouTube:
     
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  7. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edmonton
    I scored my first Mavis Rivers album today. It's a minty mono Canada pressing of "Mavis". Her singing is excellent, the song choices are great and so are the arrangements (unsurprising for Marty Paich). I agree that there is a little Ella in her voice, but I hear a lot more of Doris Day in her singing style (especially her vibrato). If Ella and Doris had a baby, her name would be Mavis. Highly recommended album.

    Edit: after I flipped to the back side and heard the upbeat "It Don't Mean A Thing", I definitely hear Ella's influence. But the second band, "A Sleepin' Bee", goes right back to Doris Day. The way Mavis bends her notes on the first syllable of words is a Doris quality. She's catching - I'll have to keep an eye open for the other Reprise albums.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
  8. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    I like to think, and I believe, that most singers are singing from their own heart and soul, from their own life experiences. So I usually focus on their own singing rather than trying to associate them or compare them with someone else, even if other singers might have helped inspire them. That way, their performances affect me more directly, and my mind does not get distracted trying to make comparisons. One of my friends does nothing but make comparisons and ultimately he becomes critical and seems to actually enjoy far less music. Every time I try to expose him to another singer, he says, "Yeah, but so-and-so is much better" and cuts off further listening. I'll admit that is an extreme, but I still think a completely fresh and open way of listening is much better.
     
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  9. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edmonton
    That's a good mindset to have, although you may want to consider that the act of drawing comparison is part of the human condition. It helps us better comprehend new stimuli, especially if there is a useful frame of reference. My previous comments are not meant to be a disservice to Miss Rivers or her artistry - I was merely exploring Nathan's comments about her similarities to Ella, and further expanding upon them to add to the discussion, since I know very little about this artist but am eager to express my enthusiasm for her.

    Rest assured, I'm less critical than your friend. Carry on.
     
  10. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor "Rockin' chair's got me"

    Location:
    USA
    They are beautiful and talented. And I appreciate whatever they decided to use their talent. Whether they go in their own distinctive way or inspired by someone else, or completely transform themselves into the another artist. They touch my soul and that is main thing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
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  11. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edmonton
    Well put. I couldn't agree more.
     
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  12. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    All singers, even the rank amateurs, have at least one great song in themselves that they sing from the depths of their soul. I have spent my life seeking those performances.
     
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  13. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor "Rockin' chair's got me"

    Location:
    USA
    P.S.

    I received this CD from France:

    [​IMG][/URL]

    [​IMG][/URL]

    [​IMG][/URL]

    The disc looks exactly like vinyl:

    [​IMG][/URL]

    [​IMG][/URL]

    Sound quality is very good - detailed, airy with some reverb and deep bass. Now I can recommend this edition to everyone.

    (For more info, review and music samplers please see Post #976).
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
  14. Eric Carlson

    Eric Carlson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Valley Center, KS
    I just recently found a copy of Brenda Lee's All Alone Am I at a local thrift shop. All By Myself is the second cut on the B side. The title song reached #3 on the pop chart in October 1962 and #1 on the adult contemporary chart. The rest of the LP is mostly standards very nicely done. Chorus and orchestra are conducted by Owen Bradley thankfully not too obtrusive. Little Miss Dynamite? Yes, but not here really although she can turn up the tempo nicely. Jazz singer? No, probably not. But this LP is quite good and she is a very fine singer who conveys emotion in a very touching way. All the more impressive considering I think she was still only 17 years old when she recorded these songs. Glad to have it.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor "Rockin' chair's got me"

    Location:
    USA
    What a coincidence at the same time I bought two of her albums released on March 15 in Japan Mini LP format: "Brenda Lee" (first) and "Brenda Lee in Tokyo" (Live, 1965) for $15 each on eBay. I cannot comment on a sound yet - they are on the way now.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm collecting her albums - new remastering and Mini LPs.
    My favorite album would be "Let Me Sing!" - just the title give me a thrill. She was, probably, the cutest American singer our Mother-Nature ever produced.

    Here is one of her neglected, but mind blowing standard:


    Cannot stop myself do not post her obscure version of this... is not it something?
    Brenda Lee - September in the Rain (1966)
     
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  16. Eric Carlson

    Eric Carlson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Valley Center, KS
    Fly Me to the Moon is the very last cut on the All Alone Am I album. September in the Rain is definitely a more mature voice and different than I expected. For a minute I was thinking Dinah Washington? Was Brenda Lee's voice more in that sound at that point? She must have loved to listen not just sing as you can hear many different influences pulled together but ultimately made her own.
     
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  17. toilet_doctor

    toilet_doctor "Rockin' chair's got me"

    Location:
    USA
    Thank you for the reference, upon which I bought a CD for $24.23 from the Japanese site cdjapan.co.jp:
    Flo Handy Smoky and Intimate Japan Mini LP CD was released by Sinatra Society of Japan (SSJ) on Dec. 17, 2008.

    "First-to-CD edition of the album originally recorded in 1964. Features cardboard sleeve and DSD remastering from Carney master."

    Excellent album and sounds great.

    [​IMG][/URL]

    [​IMG][/URL]
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
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  18. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    NS, Canada
    Nice to see Brenda Lee back in the conversation. I have bemoaned here for years that her post 1963 or so work is almost absent from cd. No one has ever given an explanation of that.

    I bought a few of the later 60s LPs several years ago to try and get some of the MIA songs, but now don't even have a turntable ;)

    I find a lot on Youtube.

    I recently found a cd that had One Rainy Night in Tokyo. Hoped it would be sung in Japanese, but it's in English. Still represents the Brenda I would love to hear more of :

     
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  19. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edmonton
    Shouldn't the discussion of Brenda Lee be moved to this thread? Some nice posts here, but she's hardly obscure.
     
  20. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    I really don't think this should be so restrictive, and at any rate the word "obscure" is vague, depending on the viewer. Brenda today is very obscure. Probably known to less than 0.2% of the population.

    This thread is a good "home base" for discussion of many singers. Nothing wrong with that. Many forum members do not track or participate in dozens of threads. The more comprehensive a thread is, the greater the frequency of participation. More activity increases number of members and number of interesting posts
     
  21. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edmonton
    I'm simply making others aware of the OP's intentions for this thread. Brenda today is not what is being discussed, and the Brenda of her time was by no means obscure. The OP has invited people to post about artists who are not primarily jazz or GAS vocalists in his companion thread. I mention this out of respect and consideration for the many hours of time and effort the OP and others have put into relevant discussion in this thread that is on-topic as per the OP's wishes.

    Any fans of Brenda should feel free to start a dedicated thread for the artist; it seems there's enough interest for a discussion.
     
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  22. Eric Carlson

    Eric Carlson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Valley Center, KS
    It'd be hard to place Brenda Lee over there as her career started well prior to the 1970's. The album I picked up All Alone Am I was recorded in 1962. She certainly wasn't obscure into the mid 1960's, but I definitely did not think of her as anyone who sang standards or understood the breadth of what she did sing. I'd largely only thought of her as Little Miss Dynamite and then a country singer starting in the 1970's.
     
  23. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edmonton
    The title of the companion thread is a little misleading. Start an appreciation thread for Brenda! Here's a nice one. Or you could do an album-by-album or session-by-session discussion as is being done for Peggy Lee and Patsy Cline. The options are endless :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  24. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    NS, Canada
    Thanks for the compliment. It has had a very limited audience though.
     
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  25. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Edmonton
    I get it. I would love nothing more than to discuss Margaret Whiting at the forum, but I don't believe there's enough interest in her artistry anymore, and she's ineligible for discussion in this thread, since she was one of the biggest-selling artists of the 1940s. Perhaps we could start a general-purpose discussion for vocalists of all genres and time periods that have performed jazz standards.
     

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