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1947-1955

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Album Review

A capable purveyor of R&B, intimate ballads, or boogie-woogie piano who sang in a high, sweet voice with soul and chutzpah similar to that of Lula Reed, Lil Green or Julia Lee, Viviane Greene made a series of fine little recordings for five different labels in San Francisco and Los Angeles between late 1947 and July 1955. This compilation claims to contain all of her recorded works with the exception of her 1962 Finer Arts material. The most dazzling tracks are without question her instrumentals, for Viviane Greene was a classically trained pianist who developed her chops working steadily at nightclubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver, Colorado. "The Unfinished Boogie," based upon Franz Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, is dynamite. "Jades of Greene" was named for the pianist's eldest daughter who was taken away by Lupus disease at the tender age of twelve. Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune appears to be the closest that this artist ever came (on record anyway) to realizing her dream of being a classical pianist. Most of the songs heard here are good time R&B entertainment or sultry love songs, some of which draw upon the standard jazz repertoire. "Red Light" is played at a surprisingly slow tempo, quite different from Sarah McLawler's riotous electric organ rendition. With the exception of world-renowned bassist Red Callender who shows up on some of the 1948 recordings, most of Greene's band personnel have not been identified. The discography does divulge the names of guitarists Trefoni "Tony" Rizzi and Nick Esposito, bassist Commodore Lark, and drummers Chuck Walker and Christopher Columbus. Her 1950, 1952, and 1955 recordings for Decca and Imperial feature a fuller band sound with reeds and brass providing ample support for her expressive vocals. As a special treat, Greene's husband Allen "Al" Greene is heard singing on a cover version of Buddy Johnson's hit song "Since I Fell for You."

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s

Singer and pianist Viviane Greene was born Willie Viviane Hoyt in Nacogdoches, TX, on June 19, 1918. She was the eldest of three children. Her parents, who were both school teachers, had her begin taking piano lessons at the age of four. Soon she was performing at church gatherings and other public events. Uncommonly intelligent and wise beyond her years, she graduated from high school when she was only 13, then enrolled at Prairie View A&M College where she met and eventually married vocalist...
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1947-1955, Viviane Greene
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