Various Artists: Yes Indeed! Women Vocalists on United (2004)
This curio is more a snapshot of the jazz-influenced and -inflected popular singing of the time than a reflection of state-of-the-art jazz singing. Too many undistinguished arrangements and corny horn effects push these sides too far to the blatantly commercial side of the ledger.
Most recognized among these singers today, of course, is Della Reese for her television role in Touched By an Angel (although her achievement as the first black woman to host a talk show, Della , predates the CBS hit by almost three decades). Many forget, though, that she is a formidable singer still and was one of the elite pop-jazz singers in a series of artistically and commercially successful records on RCA and ABC-Paramount in the '60s. Here is the young singer, finding her way and sounding at times, interestingly, a lot like the young Abbey Lincoln, especially in the nicely swung piece-of-fluff, "Blue and Orange Birds and Silver Bells." It is only on the ballad "There Will Never Be Another You" that her gorgeous chest tones and trademark exaggerated vowels begin to emerge.
Two takes of the boppish "Mays' Haze" showcase Betty Mays' scatting skills in the company of stellar jazz players, including trombonists J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding and baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne. "Old Mill Stream," however, is only notable for the horns. Helen Thompson is represented by only one tune, a jumping blues "Going Down to Big Mary's." Hardly noteworthy material, she delivers it with a great deal of sass and fun.
Debbie Andrews is supple and expressive in her two string-backed offerings, mournful and regretful in "Please Wait for Me" and sober in "When Your Lover Has Gone." Comfortable at a dead-slow tempo, she is, however, too beholden to Sarah Vaughan to be distinctive. Helen Fox handles the slow tempo of "How Deep Is the Ocean" well and she possesses an amazing vocal instrument, but her concept is so straight laced that it becomes stolid.
And so it goes. Most of the remaining singers operate in the blues-ballad realm (with here and there nods to Dakota Staton, Betty Roche and Big Maybelle), a genre very popular on jukeboxes in black communities large and small in post-World War II America. All are, to varying degrees, competent vocalists, but there is not much to recommend them in these performances from the top jazz and R&B vocalists of their time.
Track Listing: 1 Yes Indeed Della Reese ... 2:46 2 Blue and Orange Birds and Silver Bells Della Reese ... 2:31 3 There Will Never Be Another You [#] Della Reese ... 3:13 4 Mays' Haze [Take 1] Betty Mays, J.J. Johnson ... 2:45 5 Old Mill Stream [#] Betty Mays, J.J. Johnson ... 2:39 6 Never to Cry Again Bixie Crawford 2:54 7 Fallen [#] Bixie Crawford 2:48 8 I'm Still in Love With You Bixie Crawford 3:03 9 Foolish Jewel Belle ... 2:51 10 Lonely Monday Jewel Belle ... 3:21 11 Until I Fell for You Vanita Smythe 2:46 12 Please Wait for Me Debbie Andrews 2:57 13 I Can't Forget [#] Terry Timmons 3:16 14 Somebody Will Understand [#] Terry Timmons 3:10 15 How Deep Is the Ocean Helen Fox, Jimmy Coe 4:22 16 Going Down to Big Mary's [alternate take/#] Helen Thompson 2:47 17 A Fool Was I Helen Fox, Jimmy Coe 3:29 18 Yes Indeed [alternate take/#] Della Reese ... 2:49 19 When Your Lover Has Gone [#] Debbie Andrews 2:55 20 Mays' Haze [Take 2] Betty Mays 2:36
Personnel: Cat Anderson: Trumpet; Jimmy Coe: Tenor Saxophone; Gil Coggins: Piano; Gene Easton: Baritone Saxophone; McKinley Easton: Baritone Saxophone; Charlie Fowlkes: Baritone Saxophone; Percy France: Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone; Bernie Glow: Trumpet; Jimmy Hamilton: Tenor Saxophone; Edgar Hayes: Tenor Saxophone; Gus Johnson: Drums; J.J. Johnson: Trombone; Porter Kilbert: Alto Saxophone; Cecil Payne: Baritone Saxophone; Arthur Phipps: Bass; Gene Ramey: Bass; Clark Terry: Trumpet; Eugene Thomas: Bass; Earl Fox Walker: Drums; Earl Washington: Piano; Ernie Wilkins: Alto Saxophone; Kai Winding: Trombone; Chris Woods: Alto Saxophone.