Irma Curry (vcl), with Don Elliott & His Orchestra, feat. Don Elliott (mellophone, vib, scat), Hal McKusick (as), Barry Galbraith, Chuck Wayne (g), Bill Crow (b), Jo Jones (d), Al Cohn (arr). Bonus Tracks Benny Carter & Lionel Hamptons Orchestras
Reference: FSRCD 851
Bar code: 8427328608510
Irma Curry was an aspiring blues and jazz singer from Baltimore who landed the vocalist spot with Lionel Hampton and his orchestra in 1950. She soon revealed herself as an impressive singer, with a vocal personality that was her ownThe Little Mite with the Big Voice.
On her 1962 album Love Is a Necessary Evil, she was accompanied by a very swinging band assembled by Don Elliott to play Al Cohns freshly conceived arrangements, which form an excellent frame for her voice. All the lyrics are by Jack Segal, who wrote them in collaboration with four composers, among them George Handy, who contributed with Forgetful and Leavin Town. Elliott played vibes, mellophone, and did some scat singing on the main title, while the group is completed by altoist Hal McKusick, guitarists Barry Galbraith and Chuck Wayne, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Jo Jones.
One side of the bonus single is A Heart Must Learn to Cry, Dimitri Tiomkins love theme for the 1965 film 36 hours, arranged by Benny Carter, who composed and arranged the other, We Were In Love. The remaining tracks are four ballads from 1950-1951, beautifully delivered by the singer while she was with Hamptons band. Driven by clear diction and imaginative phrasing and a fine range, her voice has an insinuating, slightly nasal and sensuous edge. Comfortable at any tempo, she was quality personified.
01. Love Is a Necessary Evil (Segal-Fisher) 2:05
02. A Stranger in the City (Segal-Danzig) 2:28
03. Forget About the Boy (Segal-Russell) 2:33
04. Too Much Too Soon (Segal-Fisher) 1:58
05. When Sunny Gets Blue (Segal-Fisher) 2:47
06. Goin Back to Joes (Segal-Fisher) 3:26
07. Forgetful (Segal-Handy) 2:44
08. Cant Help It (Segal-Fisher) 2:16
09. No Spring This Year (Segal-Russell) 2:38
10. Aint Nobody Home (Segal-Fisher) 1:50
11. No One Came to My Party (Segal-Russell) 2:38
12. Leavin Town (Segal-Handy) 2:59
13. Love Is a Necessary Evil [Reprise]
14. A Heart Must Learn to Cry
(Tiomkin-Webster) 2:38 *
15. We Were In Love (Benny Carter) 2:58 *
16. Ill Never Be Free (Benjamin-Weiss) 3:21 *
17. Who Cares (Hampton-Hammer-Duncan) 3:15 *
18. If You Ever Learn to Love Me
(Hammer-Croques) 3:14 *
19. A Kiss Was Just a Kiss
Recitation by Eve Lynn (Wolff-Tishman) 2:48 *
(*) Bonus tracks not part of the LP sequence
Tracks #1-13, from the Columbia album
"Love Is A Necessary Evil" (CS8554)
Tracks #14 & 15, from the 45 rpm Vee-Jay VJ 669
Track #16, from the 78 rpm Brunswick 04576
Track #17, from the 78 rpm Decca 27305
Track #18, from the 78 rpm Decca 28230
Track #19, from the 78 rpm MGM 11371
Personnel on #1-13:
Don Elliott & His Orchestra, arranged by Al Cohn
Irma Curry (vcl), Don Elliott, mellophone, vibes & scat singing; Hal McKusick, alto sax; Barry Galbraith & Chuck Wayne, guitars; Bill Crow, bass; and Jo Jones, drums.
Recorded in New York City, January, 1962
Personnel on #14-15:
Irma Curry, vocals, with Orchestra Arranged and Conducted by Benny Carter.
Recorded in Chicago, 1965
Personnel on #16-19:
Irma Curry, vocals, with Lionel Hamptons Orchestra
Recorded in New York, January 25 (#16), October 30 (#18); Los Angeles, October 13 (#17), 1950; and New York, May 8 (#19), 1951
Original Columbia recordings produced by John Hammond
Lionel Hampton's Decca sessions produced by Milt Gabler
Cover photo: Henry Parker
This CD compilation produced by Jordi Pujol
Stereo / Mono · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
"The first 13 tracks come from the LP of the same title (Columbia CS8554) and present this very good jazz and ballad singer in one of her very few starring appearances on record. The songs are interesting, all tracks being co-compositions of lyricist Jack Segal with music mainly by Marvin Fisher (also Evelyn Danzig, George Handy and Maddy Russell), with Al Cohns arrangements.
Then come both sides of a single (We Were In Love is Benny Carter composition), while the final four tracks come from her spell with Lionel Hampton that introduced her to the jazz world. Many of the songs for which Segal wrote lyrics enjoyed great success but few regularly feature in a jazz artists repertoire and there is thus a fresh air to the set with Elliott. Currys voice is strong and melodic, she phrases beautifully, enunciates clearly, interpreting lyrics with understanding, and altogether sings with real jazz feeling.
Twenty years after the (3) tracks Curry recorded again, this time with the Alan Simon Trio, but Tom Lord lists this as appearing only on cassette. She also released Seasoned With Curry, an album of songs she co-wrote with her daughter, Kim, and which is dedicated to Benny Carter. After some decades away from the spotlight, in March this year Irma Curry was interviewed by Marc Myers for his JazzWax website. On the strength of this hugely enjoyable album she richly deserves to be much better known. This release is a good (very nearly the only) place today to hear her and is very warmly recommended."
-Bruce Crowther (Jazz Journal, June 2015)
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