Connie Russell (vcl), Ian Bernard (p, arr, dir), Al Porcino, Ray Linn, Manny Klein, Don Fagerquist (tp), Murray McEachern, Milt Bernhart, Joe Howard, Herbie Harper, Frank Rosolino (tb), George Roberts (b-tb), Vince De Rosa, John Cave (Frh), Harry Klee (fl, b-cl, ts), Chuck Gentry (cl), Jules Jacob (oboe, ts), Abe Most (fl, cl, ts), Jimmy Rowles (p), Larry Bunker (vib, perc), Howard Roberts (g), Joe Mondragon, Red Mitchell (b), Alvin Stoller, Milt Holland, Mel Lewis (d), Don Costa (arr, dir)
Reference: FSRCD 903
Bar code: 8427328609036
Connie Russell (New York 1923 – Los Angeles 1990) was born to a family of artists, and as such she started her career as a nightclub singer and actress at a very early age. She appeared in several radio and TV shows, and also on films, but she was always better known as a singer than as an actress. She was not only strikingly beautiful, she also an exciting performer to watch. Every one of her renditions is full of warmth and conviction, and delivered with her dark, suggestive, and velvety voice.
This set includes two excellent albums she recorded for United Artists Records “Don’t Smoke in Bed” (1958) and “Alone with You” (1959). The orchestral backing is the work of Ian Bernard, and shows his skill as an arranger and conductor. The various sized instrumental combinations put together by Bernard, are further blessed by some of the best West Coast jazzmen, who contributed with quality solos, used to fine, gusty effect sprinkled throughout a tasteful blend of swinging and slow-burning tunes. There are no gimmicks or affections in Connie’s singing. The honesty of her style will make a lasting impression on any listener.
"I don’t know where Fresh Sound Records finds these singers, but they bring out some obscure beauties. Connie Russell mixed a career of film, radio and TV along with a sultry singing career. She also was used in overdubbing actresses that delivered a tune, such as Claire Trevor in the 1942 film Crossroads. Here, she’s teamed with a couple orchestras in the late 50s, and uses her husky and come hither voice in excellent form.
You sure can’t argue with the musicians in the bands, which included Karry Klee, Abe Most, Howard Roberts, Frank Rosolino, Mel Lewis and Larry Bunker. Russel delivers a richly exotic and exciting “Caravan” and shadowy “Angel Eyes” while glowing with bedroom eyes on “You’re My Thrill” and “I Wanna Be Loved” on the 1958 session with orchestra and strings.
The smaller band in 1959 swings a bit more, as she saunters across the stage on “Close our Eyes” and “The Touch of Your Lips.” She revisits vaudeville piece “All I Do Is Dream of You” with long eye lashes, and greets you at the door in her Teddy on “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.” This lady could make dry ice sweat!"
George W. Harris (October 3, 2016)
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