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Lilac Wine

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Album Review

Nearly a half-century after she recorded a classic album with trumpeter Clifford Brown, Helen Merrill's voice is still pretty strong. On Lilac Wine she performs a set of melancholy ballads that are heartfelt and lightly swung. Accompanied by a large orchestra from Czechoslovakia that is arranged by Torrie Zito, Merrill interprets all of the material at a slow dreamy tempo. The results are subtle, quietly emotional, and atmospheric. The only real change of pace is Marian McPartland's instrumental "Portrait of Helen Merrill." Otherwise all of the music is taken at the same slow tempo and in a similar mood. Despite the lack of variety, this quiet outing grows in interest with each listen.

Biography

Born: 21 July 1930 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

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...
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Lilac Wine, Helen Merrill
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