A native Chicagoan, Barbara Long’s career as a jazz singer began in 1953—at twenty— when she joined tenorman Johnny Griffin’s trio at Chicago’s Cotton Club. She was essentially a small group singer in the tradition of Billie Holiday and the early Sarah Vaughan.
She went to New York in 1959, and got a chance to record her first and only album, simply titled Soul. She had the backing of a quintet led by arranger and trumpeter Billy Howell, which included one of the brightest new tenor saxophone stars at the time, the fiercely rhythmic Booker Ervin. The rhythm section—Nat Phipps, piano; George Tucker, bass; and Al Harewood, drums— sounds tight, while Barbara Long’s pithy, faintly hoarse, intimately bluesy voice blends with the swing of the quintet like a sixth instrument.
—Jordi Pujol (From the inside liner notes of FSRV 114)