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All About Chris

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Album Review

The 21 songs on this compilation were recorded in 1954 and 1955 and originally released as Chris Connor's first three solo 12" albums. Technically speaking, they're not her first solo recordings, as she'd previously done some 10" albums for the Bethlehem label. But certainly they rate among the cream of her early solo work, concentrating on material by the likes of Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, George Gershwin-Ira Gershwin, Gordon Jenkins, George Shearing, and Charles DeForest. On the 1955 sessions in particular (from which the final eight songs are drawn), she's backed by some top players, including Herbie Mann, Milt Hinton, J.J. Johnson, and Kai Winding. This material was important in establishing her as one of the top '50s jazz vocalists, with her intelligent interpretations and husky timbre complemented by arrangements reflecting the cool school of jazz. As the packaging is on the sparse side (though writing credits and basic session details are noted), serious Connor fans might find this too perfunctory an encapsulation of this part of her career. For more general Connor appreciators and vocal jazz enthusiasts, however, it's a good introduction and/or overview to some of the most significant recordings of her early output.


Born: 08 November 1927 in Kansas City, MO

Genre: Jazz

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

Along with June Christy, Helen O'Connell, and Julie London, Chris Connor epitomized cool jazz singing in the 1950s. Influenced by Anita O'Day, the torchy, smoky singer wasn't one for aggression. Like Chet Baker on the trumpet or Paul Desmond and Lee Konitz on alto sax, she used subtlety and restraint to their maximum advantage. At the University of Missouri, Connor (who had studied clarinet at an early age) sang with a Stan Kentonish big band led by trombonist Bob Brookmeyer before leaving her native...
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