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Helen Merrill - Parole e Musica
Vinyl LP

Helen Merrill

Parole e Musica

Schema Rearward

Released: 23rd June 2014 | 22 track jazz-funk album

Helen Merrill has done something very few others have done in the world of

jazz for, just with one record, she has come to be considered one of jazz's

greats. Usually a budding new star has to do quite a bit of waiting before he or

she can be acclaimed. It all depends on the public's opinion of the musician's

merits. Sarah Vaughan—amongst the singers —and Julian Cannonball

Adderley—among the instrumentalists—have had to take their place in the

queue awaiting the people's favourable reaction. In Helen Merrill's case

however, it only needed her 1955 recording with Clifford Brown and Oscar

Pettiford—with arrangements by Quincy Jones—for the critics to state that at

long last jazz had a fair skinned singer. And yet we cannot exclude June

Christy, Anita O'Day or Chris Connor. It was just that Helen seemed to have

that certain je ne sais quoi which, before her splendid entry into the realm of

jazz, seemed to be exclusive right and property of the coloured singers—with

Billie Holliday leading the field.

Helen was born in New York thirty years ago. Her education in jazz was

handled by musicians like Bud Powell, Miles Davis and J. J. Johnson, and then

she carried on to her first important musical engagement—Earl Hines and his

orchestra. Her style is decisively instrumental and her interpretations never

set up that old problem of styling which often crops up when we think of the

recordings of other modern singers, that is whether it's really jazz or whether

we are listening only ballads to pazz style. Helen uses her voice with

intelligente and is deliberately discret i.e. she tries to make her voice seem

like an added instrument to the orchestra. Her recordings of Willow Weep for

Me and Everything Happens to Me are especially good examples of this

ability of hers.

In 1960 Helen Merrill went on a tour round Europe and was the star at the

Comblain La Tour Jazz Festival. Later, she came to Italy in order to record a

series of concerts for a television programme called Moderato Swing with

Piero Umiliani and his orchestra. She has also recorded 4 songs in Italian with

Armando Trovajoli and his orchestra (a 45 r.p.m. extended play—RCA EPA 30-

387). She has even been to sing in Japan...

In this record are gathered the songs that Helen Merrill sung for the Italian TV

show I have just mentioned. The Italian words have been kept from the original

and they are by Fernando Cajati.

In Night and Day, Everything Happens to Me, Autumn in New York, These

Foolish Things and I've Got You under My Skin, Helen Merril is accompained

by a sextet made up by Piero Umiliani (piano), Nini Rosso (trumpet), Gino

Marinacci (baritone sax), Enzo Grillini (guitar), Berto Pisano (bass) and Sergio

Conti (drums). In the other items we hear instead a quartet formed by Piero

Umiliani (piano and celesta), Nino Culasso (trumpet), Tonino Ferrelli (bass) and

Ralph Ferraro (drums).