Blue Note, Chicago, March 1956
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Jeri Southern became one of the most underrated jazz vocal interpreters of the 1950s despite a voice regarded as subpar. Transforming a potential failing into her prime strength, Southern was devastatingly effective at delivering songs charting the downhill romantic life of world-weary everywoman characters. Lyrically focused, somewhat desultory, and definitely lovesick, the style of singing often called, for better or worse, torch songs.
On this trio gig from 1956, the very same year America first completely swooned for Elvis, she accompanied herself daringly on piano with a bassist and a drummer. Her vocal delivery and style is like an audible blue period Monet; lots of tones and grades giving you different things depending on your distance and perspective.
She shows her impressive piano skills on “Too Late Now” as well as “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You”. Yes, she can be upbeat and optimistic as on “Too Marvelous for Words” and “It’s De-Lovely” but these are simply lighter chips on the deeply hued mosaic that is the intoxicating and irresistible Miss Southern. Her biggest hit, “You Better Go Now” includes all her strengths; understatement with vulnerability and a lilting pulse in both her voice and on her piano that sounds like she’s just about to fade into the shadows.
And then, shortly before the record’s close, she does a stunning a capella version of “Scarlet Ribbons” that silences the house and can be heard now as one of the great jazz performances of her time. She’s unexpectedly marvelous all the way through this record but on that one track you can’t help wondering “where did THAT come from?”
This album frames us a woman in total command of her art, bordering ever-so-slightly on cabaret performing, which in her case, is all to the good. She is both a first-rate performer and hypnotizing to listen to. Another one we thoroughly recommend!
JERI SOUTHERN, vocal, piano
AL BRUNO, bass
DOMINIC "MICKEY" SIMONETTA, drums
Blue Note, Chicago, March 1956.
01. I Hadn't Anyone Till You
02. Jeri Introduces Her Trio Members
03. Mad About The Boy
04. You Better Go Now
05. I'm In Love With The Honorable Mr. So And So
06. Dancing On The Ceiling
07. I Get A Kick Out Of You
08. Too Late Now
09. This Can't Be Love
10. Miss Johnson Phoned Again Today