Thelma Gracen, Milli Vernon (vcl), Ruby Braff (tp), Georgie Auld (ts), Quentin Anderson (tb), Lou Levy, Dave McKenna (p), Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney (g), Joe Comfort, Wyatt Ruther (b), Sid Bulkin, Jo Jones (d)
Reference: FSR V104 CD
Bar code: 8427328641043
The Best Voices Time Forgot
Collectible Albums by Top Female Vocalists
· Collector's Edition
· 2 Original LPs on 1 CD
· Original Cover Art, Liner Notes
· Complete Personnel Details
· Hi-Fi Recordings
· Newly Remastered in 24-Bit
Just where the boundary lies between the singer of popular songs and the real jazz singer is very often difficult to delineate. Thelma Gracen’s name may not ring any bells for neither jazz fan nor pop addict, but don’t let that deter you. After enjoying a few of her songs, you will realize that she had what it takes to be not only a good singer, but a good jazz singer. She has the beat, the feeling, and that special inner understanding of a lyric that can make an indifferent song sound good, a good song sound great, and a great song sound the way it was meant to sound.
Introducing Milli Vernon
Before this recording session, Jazz singer Milli Vernon was virtually unknown, and for good reason. She had served her apprenticeship singing with various bands under the name Pat Cameron, and on club dates in the New York area for about six years. Her voice was pretty and expressive, and she had a strong sense of time, good intonation and a kind of flexible, intimate quality to her voice that makes her sound like no other. For her first album, Milli was backed beautifully by Dave McKenna, Jimmy Raney, Wyatt Ruther, Jo Jones, and on all but three of the tracks by Ruby Braff as well, in a collection of seldom recorded tunes which include Artie Shaws’s moody Moon Ray.
"Here we have another two high-quality singers lost in the mists of time, disinterred by Jordi Pujol and brought back to us. Enthusiastic words forecasting a great future in jazz singing were on the sleeve notes of the original two LP issues. And with good reason: both these ladies sang comfortably with good jazz musicians, their phrasing, voice control and interpretation of the lyrics all spot on.
Thelma’s self-titled LP features her with sterling backing from the likes of Georgie Auld, Barney Kessel and Lou Levy. Phrasing cleanly on I’ll Never Be The Same and dipping down to a lower register Thelma hits the good notes and the blue notes as Kessel and the rhythm section glide along in the background. She certainly demonstrates that subtle but almost indescribable difference between a true jazz singer and a good pop songstress. She swings easily too, in particular on tracks like Tea For Two and that old favourite of jazzers ancient and modern, Out Of Nowhere. Lou Levy shines on this one. Auld and Quentin Anderson’s trombone add piquant jazz flavourings.
Milli Vernon has a distinctive, bluesy, husky voice but just as much jazz feeling and intonation. She begins with a slow, blues-based Weep For The Boy which is helped along nicely by Ruby Braff’s muted trumpet and the free-flowing piano of Dave McKenna. Spring Is Here finds her in reflective, ballad mood, her voice strong and resonant. She really tells a story here and McKenna understands and supplies just the right piano backing. I feel that both these discs would be heralded just as enthusiastically if they were recorded and issued in 2019."
Derek Ansell (June 12, 2019)
"Thelma Gracen's lone EmArcy date boasts a warm, nocturnal atmosphere that belies the precision and complexity of its performances. Guitarist Barney Kessel, tenorist Georgie Auld, and pianist Lou Levy are all in top form, delivering graceful, almost effortless support that encircles Gracen's vocals like a kind of halo effect. Her cool, sophisticated interpretations of chestnuts like "I'll Remember April" and "Night and Day" immediately bring to mind the likes of Anita O'Day and Chris Connor, but Gracen possesses a style and intelligence all her own -- it's a shame her discography is so slim."
Jason Ankeny -All Music Guide
Introducing Milli Vernon
"With its intimate, closing-time atmosphere and thoughtful performances, Introducing Milli Vernon boasts a maturity and honesty that cut surprisingly deep -- despite Vernon's relative anonymity, she's a compelling vocalist with a genuine sense of style and drama. Of course, it's the names below the title -- trumpeter Ruby Braff, guitarist Jimmy Raney, and pianist Dave McKenna among them -- that many jazz buffs will find most appealing, and while their contributions are firmly within the Storyville label's signature style, the session's overall emphasis and atmosphere and mood means their contributions are largely subordinate to Vernon's voice. That said, this is a solid album, even if some of the material is a bit too slight; given the right song, like "I Don't Know What Kind of Blues I've Got," Vernon excels."
Both by Jason Ankeny -All Music Guide