Saturday, August 18, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Helen Merrill

Artist:Helen Merrill
Song:You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
Album:Helen Merrill/Dream Of You

Jazz singer Helen Merrill is best known for her 50s recordings with jazz greats like Clifford Brown and Gil Evans. She toured so much in Europe and Japan that she moved to Japan. She was born Jelena Ana Milcetic July 21, 1930 in New York City. Her parents were Croation immigrants. She sang in local jazz clubs as a teen. Her big break came in 1952 when she recorded A Cigarette For Company with The Earl Hines Band. This led to a contract with Mercury Records' jazz label EmArcy. The Cole Porter standard You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To is from her 1954 debut album Helen Merrill. The album features legendary trumpeter Clifford Brown who of course died tragically in a 1956 car crash. So any Brown appearance on anything is a treat. Quincy Jones was 21 years old when he arranged and conducted this album. Other musicians on this album include Hank Jones on piano, Barry Galbraith on guitar and Milt Hinton on bass. Today this album is considered a jazz classic. It is available on CD but it's only a half hour long. So Rev-Ola has paired it with the 1957 album Dream For You as a twofer on CD. Gil Evans arranged and conducted Dream For You and musicians include Hank Jones, Art Farmer on trumpet, Oscar Pettiford on bass and Joe Morello on drums. Mercury attempted to turn Helen into a pop singer but she moved to Italy in the 60s to take advantage of her popularity in Europe. And then she moved to Japan and hosted a radio show. So like a lot of jazz musicians, her popularity abroad has kept her going. Since the 70s she toured with her husband Torrie Zito until his 2009 death. Zito is best known for his string arrangements on John Lennon's Imagine. And she recorded for Verve in the 90s. Her son Alan Merrill is a rock singer. Her website was last updated in 2010 so maybe she has retired. Helen Merrill's 50s music is recommended to jazz fans. Here is Helen Merrill performing You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To in Japan 1988.

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