Helen Carr (vcl), Don Fagerquist, Cappy Lewis (tp), Frank Rosolino (tb), Charlie Mariano (as), Donn Trenner, Claude Williamson (p), Howard Roberts (g), Max Bennett, Red Mitchell, Charles Mingus (b), Stan Levey, Johnny Berger (d), LeRoy Holmes, Stan Kenton (dir)
Bar code: 8427328611039
Helen Carr (1922-1960) was one of those singers with an innate jazz feeling, sensitive phrasing, and a warm, unaffected sound, which she skillfully used to stamp her personality at any beat and fill each performance with an inescapable atmosphere.
She spent the late Forties working with the Chuck Foster and Buddy Morrow orchestras, and finally made her first major mark on the business in 1950, as the blonde singer in Charlie Barnet’s orchestra. Subsequently, she sang with the aggregations of Georgie Auld and Stan Kenton, and in between she sat in with Charlie Parker and Chet Baker at the Tiffany Club.
In 1954 Helen, gave up the band business to try her luck as a single. She appeared at the Crescendo club and elsewhere in Los Angeles, where she gained some traction, and Red Clyde, the West Coast producer for Bethlehem Records, signed Helen to the label. Her contract resulted in two excellent albums under her own name, as well as two songs she recorded as a guest singer in a Max Bennett date, with all sessions taking place in 1955.
Even though she died at a young age and remained largely unknown outside of the West Coast, Helen Carr left an undeniable mark as a jazz vocalist. Her recordings are few but sufficient to provide an eloquent example of how she understood a song and was able to communicate its essence to the listener.
"Helen Carr was arguably the most enigmatic performer in the annals of pre-1960s popular music – so much so that one struggles to find two people who agree on her date and place of birth. Currently 1922 and Salt Lake City are leading the field.
All we can say for certain is that in 1955 she recorded and released two long-playing vinyl albums on the Bethlehem label – Down In The Depths On The 90th Floor, and Why Do I Love You? Now Fresh Sound have released in one package what looks like just about everything she recorded in her relatively short life – cancer claimed her at only 37. That's the two Bethlehem albums plus a half dozen singles."
—Leon Nock (September 12, 2021)
"Barcelona-based Fresh Sound Records continues its service to jazz fans by coming up with previously obscure and overlooked vocalists that deserve a second and third listen. Here's the last find by the Sherlock Holmes of swinging singers.
As you'll find out in the liner notes to this album, Helen Carr's musical career was rather short and sweet, but you'd never guess the trajectory from these 1955-1957 sessions. She sounds a bit from the Christy-Connor mold, with a bit of Billie Holiday thrown into the vo-cool formula.
The first session from 55 has her with Angelenos Don Fagerquist/tp, Charlie Mariano/as, Donn Trenner/p, Max Bennet/b and Stan Levey/dr for a sassy Ellingtonian ditty “Tulip or Turnip” and spaciously floating with Mariano on the drummerless “I Don't Want to Cry Anymore” and getting intimate with Trenner on a delicate “I'm Glad There Is You”. With trombonist Frank Rosolino joining in, she's fun and cheerful on “They Say”. Later in the year, she's in the sonata company of Cappy Lewis/tp, Howard Roberts/g and Red Mitchell/b for a cozy swing of “ Be Careful, It's My Heart” before she dims the lights for “Lonely Street”, sliding her lyrics like Lady Day during “You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me”. She also shows flexibility in a ringer of a 1949 thrown in session with Charles Mingus for “Say It Isn't So” and has a blast with Stan Kenton's Orchestra on “Everything Happens to Me”. This lady will knock you out in the 3rd round.
As with all of the Fresh Sound albums, the liner notes and session musician listings are complete and completely fascinating."
—George W. Harris (June 19, 2021)
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