Betty Blake (vcl), Marcus Belgrave (tp), Roland Alexander (ts), Mal Waldron (p), Teddy Charles (vib), Kenny Burrell (g), Addison Farmer (b), Charlie Persip (d) / John Plonsky (tp), Carl Janelli (bs), Dominic Cortese (acc), Chet Amsterdam (b)
Reference: FSRCD 821
Cincinnati-born singer Betty Ann Blake (April 9, 1937), began her career at 16 with local bands and then joined the Ernie Rudy (1954-1956) and Buddy Morrow (1956-1958) orchestras.
As Morrows featured vocalist she attracted the attention of Golden Crest Records. Offered work as guest singer on two songs on an album by trumpeter John Plonskys modern jazz quintet, this in turn led to the recording of a single accompanied by Jack Zimmermans orchestra.
Her band experience took her to clubs around the country, and after four years she returned to Cincinnati to join a vocal group for a time. When in 1961 vibes player and producer Teddy Charles approached her to do an album for Bethlehem Records featuring five Alec Wilder ballads, she decided to drop the Ann from her name.
For this release, Betty Blake Sings in a Tender Mood, top flight jazzmen like Mal Waldron, Zoot Sims, Kenny Burrell, Roland Alexander and Charles furnished her with an ideal background. She had a touching ballad style, and swung well on medium and uptempo tunes, always approaching her material in a direct, ungimmicky fashion and faithfully serving the sense of the lyric. Unfortunately she disappeared from the scene and nothing was heard of her until her untimely death, of cancer, at age 63, on September 19, 2001.
01. Let There Be Love
(Grant-Rand / arr. Waldron) 1:54
02. Ill Be Around
(Wilder/ arr. Charles) 2:16
03. Moon and Sand
(Engvick-Palitz-Wilder / arr. Charles) 1:59
04. Trouble Is a Man
(Wilder / arr. Alexander) 2:28
05. Love Is Just Around the Corner
(Robin-Gensler / arr. Alexander) 2:18
06. Lilac Wine
(Shelton / arr. Charles) 5:12
07. Its So Peaceful in the Country
(Wilder / arr. Waldron) 2:32
08. While Were Young
(Coots-Gillespie / arr. Waldron) 2:33
09. Blue Fool
(Wilder-Hanighen / arr. Dorough) 2:24
10. All of You
(Porter / arr. Waldron) 2:42
11. Dont Say Love Has Ended
(Wilder-Engvick / arr. Waldron) 2:30
12. Out of This World
(Mercer-Arlen / arr. Dorough) 2:32
13. But Not for Me
(G. & I.Gershwin / arr. Plonsky) 2:27
14. How About You
(Lane-Freed / arr. Plonsky) 1:55
15. The Lady Sings the Blues
16. Jersey Boy (Arnold Sundgaard) 2:26
Tracks #1-12, from the album
Betty Blake Sings in a Tender Mood
Tracks #13 & 14, from the album
John Plonsky Quintet - Cool Man Cool
(Golden Crest CR3014)
Tracks #15 & 16 from the Betty Ann Blake single
Golden Crest CR115
Betty Blake, sings in all tracks, with:
Tracks #1,4,10,12: Marcus Belgrave, trumpet; Roland Alexander, tenor sax & flute (#4)
Mal Waldron, piano; Addison Farmer, bass; Charlie Persip, drums.
Track #3: Kenny Burrell, guitar; Eustis Guillemet, bass; Ed Shaughnessy, drums
Tracks #7 & 11: Zoot Sims, tenor sax; Teddy Charles, vibes; Mal Waldron, piano; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Eustis Guillemet, bass; Ed Shaughnessy, drums.
Tracks #2,5,6,8: Teddy Charles, vibes; Mal Waldron, piano; Eustis Guillemet, bass
Charles Persip, drums.
Track #9: Zoot Sims, Roland Alexander, tenor saxes; Mal Waldron, piano; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Eustis Guillemet, bass; Ed Shaughnessy, drums.
Recorded in New York, 1961
Tracks #13 & 14: John Plonsky, trumpet; Carl Janelli, baritone sax; Dominic Cortese, accordion; Chet Amsterdam, bass; Mel Zelnick, drums
Recorded in New York, on March 5, 1957
Tracks #15 & 16: Jack Zimmerman and His Orchestra
Recorded in New York during summer, 1957
Arrangements by: Mal Waldron (#1,7,8,10,11), Teddy Charles (#2-3 & 6), Roland Alexander (#4,5), Bob Dorough (#9,12), John Plonsky (#13,14), Jack Zimmerman (#15,16)
Original recordings produced by Teddy Charles (#1-12) and Clark Galehouse (#13-16)
Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol
"It is remarkable how many very good female jazz singers made one or two LPs in the late 50s to early 60s and then disappeared. Maybe there wasnt enough work to go round. Betty Ann Blake worked with Buddy Morrows band in 1956 and recorded two tracks with trumpeter John Plonskys combo at that time. Vibes man Teddy Charles set up a record date for her with Bethlehem in 1961 and that disc, with the title of this CD, makes up most of the material on offer here. This session was the Betty Blake debut and swansong in one.
Blake swings easily on these tracks, receiving sympathetic support from Charles on vibes, Belgraves trumpet and the rhythm sections. Her voice is both intimate and warm and she handles a lyric as though she means every word. Dont Say Love Has Ended is particularly good. Betty pours heart, soul and voice into a sad song and there are some tasty arabesques on tenor from Zoot Sims. Perhaps best of all is her uptempo assault on Out Of This World, where she picks the lyric up by the scruff of its neck and swings it hard, with Belgrave and Alexander blazing behind her.
Lady Sings and Jersey Boy come from a single made in 1957. I find it extremely sad that Betty Blake died of cancer in 2001 aged 63, long forgotten. Credit is due to Jordi Pujol of Fresh Sound for bringing her considerable talent back to our notice."
Derek Ansell -May, 2014
Notes on 'Sings in a Tender Mood':
"A great little vocal session on Bethlehem and maybe the only record we've ever seen from singer Betty Blake! Blake's a great vocalist right from the start one who balances swing and sophistication wonderfully amidst some very hip jazz backings from a combo that features Zoot Sims and Roland Alexander on tenor, Marcus Belgrave on trumpet, Teddy Charles on vibes, Kenny Burrell on guitar, and Mal Waldron on piano! The set's got a bit more punch than some other Bethlehem vocal dates, but it also has a nice sense of spontaneity too never over-arranged or too staid, in ways that really show off Blake's swinging side."
-Dusty Groove, Inc.