Sunday, June 1, 2008

My latest, arguably greatest discovery: Helen Merrill

The road to jazz knowledge continues to be frought with difficulty.

After eating too much curry at a curry cook-off at lunch yesterday (eight different kinds of curry, including coffee, dumpling, kimchee, spinach, strawberry, and three others), it is no wonder my stomach woke me at 2:45 this morning. Sleep was not an option. I've been listening to Helen Merrill with Clifford Brown the last two days, and I listened to it again to lull me to sleep last night. In the darkness before the dawn, I've spent the last half hour or so perusing my Jazz Recordings Guide and the Internet for Helen Merrill CD's. Lord, I'm in love with Helen Merrill. People who are familiar with her work will know what I'm talking about. I'm at a loss to explain her singing and song-stering, all I can say is, I really love to listen to her sing. The voice: so pure. The timing: unhurried but right on. The phrasing: impeccable and un-imitatable. What's that, two words invented already because I can't describe her and her singing?

Of course, the version of the CD I bought has only seven tracks and is a frighteningly short thirty two and a half minutes. That's why it is easy to imagine my consternation at finding a "complete" with Clifford Brown CD that has 19 songs. Son of a --! I have to say, this is where the Penguin Jazz Recordings Guide really fails me. It just doesn't tell you what's what, as I've pointed out before. Would it have been too much to ask for one line saying: "Helen's really good, so if you think you might like her, look for the "complete" recordings"? It would have saved me 11 bucks anyway, because, I have to have everything Helen Merrill.

I'm in love.

Oh, and yes, you better believe she's going on the Yoity Tot CD list. Right at the top.

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