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All About Ronnie - the Bethlehem Recordings 1953-1955

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Album Review

Although she recorded for a longer period with Atlantic, Chris Connor's Bethlehem years were when she blossomed as one of the finest vocal interpreters of the jazz songbook in the business. She could make a standard her own (witness her spirited jaunt through Cole Porter's "From This Moment On"), and she could also discover the qualities worth keeping in songs that weren't quite standards. All About Ronnie: The Bethlehem Recordings 1953-1955 includes 12 tracks of her mid-'50s best, although despite the title it isn't a true Bethlehem compilation; the 12 tracks were indeed recorded throughout her tenure, but they made up a later album titled Chris that was released in 1957, after she had decamped for Atlantic. Regardless, it has several of her gems, including the title track and the wonderful "Indian Summer," whose buildup (in its Sy Oliver arrangement) serves to perfectly frame Connor's cheery but bittersweet lyric and performance. With only a half-hour of running time, this would have been far better if it had been bolstered with more material and released as a true Bethlehem years compilation, but if you need to have all of Connor's work, this will help fill in the gaps.


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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All About Ronnie - the Bethlehem Recordings 1953-1955, Chris Connor
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