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Honi Gordon

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Honi Gordon was among the one-album wonders of jazz; the obscure, bop-oriented singer recorded only one LP as a solo artist (1962's little-known Honi Gordon Sings). But her lack of exposure was not due to a lack of talent. Gordon, the daughter of vocalist/composer George Gordon, had an appealing style that was influenced by Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday, as well as Annie Ross. There were also hints of Chris Connor in some of her performances. Gordon first sang professionally in the early '50s, when she became a member of a jazz vocal group called the Gordons. That outfit was a family affair, consisting of Honi Gordon as well as her father and two brothers. Though the group didn't sell a lot of records, it attracted the attention of Charles Mingus and did some recording with the famous bassist/pianist/bandleader. Pianist Mary Lou Williams was also an admirer of the group, as was bandleader/vibist Lionel Hampton. Nonetheless, the Gordons were unable to sustain a long career, and they broke up. By the early '60s, Honi Gordon was pursuing a solo career. She recorded her first solo album, Honi Gordon Sings, for Prestige in 1962, employing such noteworthy jazzmen as acoustic bassist George Duvivier, drummer Ed Shaughnessy, and the eclectic pianist Jaki Byard. The album was quite promising; Gordon showed herself to be a strong interpreter of lyrics on material that ranged from Mingus' "Strollin'" and the standard "Ill Wind" to her father's "My Kokomo." But, unfortunately, Gordon's first solo album was also her last — after Honi Gordon Sings, she never recorded again as a solo artist. In 1991, Fantasy reissued Honi Gordon Sings on CD for the limited editions line of its Original Jazz Classics (OJC) series.

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