Joan Shaw (vcl), Billy Ford (dir, vcl), Emmett Berry, King Porter, Francis Williams, Ernie Royal (tp), Ted Donnelly, Tyree Glenn (tb), Charles Q. Price, George Dorsey, Romeo Penque (as), Buddy Tate, Billy Mitchell, Louis Barnett, Hal Singer, Freddie Mitchell, Seldon Powell, (ts), Paul Williams, Eddie Barefield, Sol Schlinger (bs), Bill Doggett, Floyd Taylor, Billy Taylor, Danny Small, Ernie Hayes, Herman Foster (p), Louis Speiginer, Skeeter Best, John Pizzarelli (g), Benny Booker, John Holiday, Al Lucas, George Duvivier, Milt Hinton, Earl May (b), Chico Hamilton, Bill Benjamin, Chris Columbus, Bruno Carr, Joe Marshall (d), Sampson Horton, Sid Feller, Don Costa, Chuck Sagle, Bill Ramal (dir, arr)
Reference: FSRCD 920
Bar code: 8427328609203
Not many people will remember the name Joan Shaw, a great singer who never really got her due in the early days of her career. Born in 1930 in Newport News, Virginia, home town of Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey, she began singing in amateur programs when she was 13. In December 1947 she made her recording debut as a featured jazz vocalist, singing 'Rain in My Eyes' with the Buddy Tate Orchestra. From 1949 on she toured and recorded with different groups during the R&B era and the rise of rock ‘n roll. In 1956 she tried the pop route, recording with strings and commercial arrangements, but it didn’t work.
A better future loomed when eminent jazz critic Leonard Feather hailed her as “one of the most promising singers in the United States,” and in 1961, surrounded by fine jazzmen, she recorded her first album “Sings for Swingers,” for Epic Records. She played some of the best clubs on the contemporary circuit, recording “Joan Shaw in Person,” a live album with the Herman Foster trio. Despite good reviews, however, it proved to be a false dawn.
In 1965, faced with diminishing success—and racism—in the USA, she moved to Europe, reinvented herself as Salena Jones and finally went on to enjoy the long, successful career she deserved. This compilation presents a retrospective of her first recordings as Joan Shaw.
"Here’s a lady that you’ll want to get to know. Joan Shaw (aka Salena Jones b. 1930) sang and toured with such notables as King Curtis, Cab Calloway, Big Maybelle and Louis Armstrong. She had a career as a R&B vocalist, but is overlooked here in the states as she spent most of her career in England and Europe. What did we miss?
Plenty! This 2 cd set is divided into “singles” from 1947-1962, with the supporting musicians ranging from orchestra’s lead by Hal “Cornbread” Singer, Buddy Tate and generic ensembles like “Blues Express Orchestra to rich orchestras arranged and conducted by Don Costa. Her voice has the range of Sarah Vaughan, but the earthiness of a Ruth Brown, and she digs deep with a swagger on pieces like “He Knows How To Hucklebuck” and “Pretty Eyed Baby.” She is as sassy as all get out on “I Want A Man For Christmas” and is smoky on “Hand-Holdin’ Baby.”
The second disc has the Joan Shaw Sings for Swingers from 1961, and it includes Ernie Royal/tp, John Pizzarelli/g, George Duvivier/b and Joe Marshall/dr with Bill Ramal’s arrangements. Royal is lush on “Let Me Love You” and the saxes swing with R&B dancers like “Lover” and even Duke Ellington’s “Just Squeeze Me’ get some grit under the fingernails. A 1964 gig in NYC has her with Herman Foster/p, Earl May/b and Bruno Carr/dr and she delivers a sexy samba on ”Through a Long And Sleepless Night” while stretching out slowly and with vulnerability on “Fly Me To The Moon.” She still has the swagger, as on “Sittin’ Alone and Counting Me Tears” and will make yu drop your jaw on “This Is All I Ask.” YOWZA!"
George W. Harris (March 27, 2017)