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Chris Connor: Warm Cool: The Atlantic Years

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Shortly before signing with Atlantic, singer Chris Connor released an album on the Charly label titled Cool Chris. Her style of singing conjures up the title of that 1954 album in the same manner as a genre of jazz referred to as "the cool school." It’s the same use of the adjective we apply when dealing cards with a "cool hand," driving through rush hour traffic with a "cool head" or handling a frustrating day at the office with coolness of spirit. The dictionary’s description of cool jazz as "restrained emotion along with frequent use of counterpoint" derives from the fact that music such as Connor’s uses less vibrato and places an emphasis on the design of the arrangement. Contrast "the cool school" with older "sweet" bands, "hot" soloists and "hot" arrangements. The liner notes to Warm Cool: The Atlantic Years include "An Appreciation" by Will Friedwald that thoroughly describes Connor’s career from her studies at the University of Missouri and gigs with Bob Brookmeyer, through the Kenton band and on to her featured albums.

The collection presented here features Connor’s smooth emotionally cool alto voice backed by various groups performing mostly ballads. She seldom raises her voice. Recorded between 1956 and 1962, Warm Cool: The Atlantic Years is compiled from the following Atlantic albums: Chris Connor [1228], He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not [1240], A Jazz Date With Chris Connor [1286], Chris Craft [1290], Chris Connor Sings The George Gershwin Almanac Of Song [2601], Chris Connor Sings Ballads Of The Sad Café [1307], I Miss You So [8014], A Portrait Of Chris [8046], Double Exposure [8049], Free Spirits [8061], Witchcraft [8032], and Misty [P-6135A].

The most exciting material on this compilation comes from the singer’s album with Maynard Ferguson Double Exposure. The trumpeter’s tone in the very early 1960s was full and lyrical; he and Connor blended perfectly on familiar tunes such as "All the things You Are." Ornette Coleman’s "Lonely Woman," with its eerie harmonies emphasized by odd timbres from woodwinds Phil Woods, Oliver Nelson, and Sol Schlinger contrasts with Duke Ellington’s joyful "I Am Gonna Go Fishin’," from the very same Free Spirits album. Elsewhere, George Gershwin’s "S’Wonderful" is among the handful of standards that finds the singer backed by her piano trio of Ralph Sharon, Oscar Pettiford and Osie Johnson. Bobby Jaspar’s flute circles the singer on "These Foolish Things," while Clark Terry’s open trumpet provides a contrasting interlude on "Milano." "My Shining Hour" includes solos by Al Cohn, Lucky Thompson, and Eddie Costa over dynamic Latin rhythms, which are provided by Chano Pozo and Mongo Santamaria. Cohn’s interlude on "Poor Little Rich Girl" blends with the day’s breeze to produce gentle phrases that turn solemn and as cool as Chris Connor’s style.

Track Listing: Strike Up the Band; Good Morning Heartache; But Not for Me; All the Things You Are; When the Wind Was Green; Poor Little Rich Girl; Lonely Woman; I Miss You So; I Am Gonna Go Fishin

Personnel: Chris Connor- vocals; Bobby Jaspar, Sam Most- flute; Marshall Royal- alto saxophone; Al Cohn, Lucky Thompson- tenor saxophone; Charlie Fowlkes- baritone saxophone; Steve Perlow, Stan Webb, Jerry Sanfino, Morton Lewis, Phil Woods, Seldon Powell, Oliver Nelson, Joe Farrell, Willie Maiden, Frank Hittner, Sol Schlinger, Eddie Wasserman, Phil Bodner, Lanny Morgan- reeds; Maynard Ferguson, Bill Berry, Rolf Ericson, Chet Ferretti, Rick Keifer, Ernie Royal, Snooky Young, Sweets Edison, Irvin Markowitz, Don Byrd, Joe Newman, Joe Wilder- trumpet; Clark Terry- trumpet, flugelhorn; Al Grey, Frank Rehak, Wayne Andre, Willie Dennis, Dick Hixon, Eddie Bert, Ray Winslow, Kenny Rupp, Jimmy Cleveland, Jim Thompson, Warren Covington- trombone; Freddie Greene, Barry Galbraith, Joe Puma, Kenny Burrell- guitar; Ralph Sharon, Stan Free, Jaki Byard, Jimmy Jones, Ronnie Ball, Hank Jones- piano; Milt Hinton, George Duvivier, Wendell Marshall, Eddie Jones, Don Payne, Charlie Sanders, Ben Tucker, Oscar Pettiford- bass; Ed Shaughnessy, Dave Bailey, Rufus Jones, Teddy Sommer, Sonny Payne, Billy Exiner, Osie Johnson- drums; Eddie Costa- vibes; Johnny Rodriguez, Chano Pozo- bongos; Mongo Santamaria- congas; Eugene Orloff, Sylvan Shulman, Harry Melnikoff, Sam Rand, Harry Katzman, Harry Urbont, Ray Free, George Ockner, Mac Ceppos, Tosha Samaroff, Leo Kruczek, Harry Lookofsky- violin; Isadore Zir, Dave Mankowitz- viola; Dave Soyer, Maurice Brown- cello; full orchestra conducted by Ralph Burns.

Record Label: 32 Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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