Chris Connor didn’t just sing a song, she owned it! Born in Kansas City to a musical family, she was originally trained on the clarinet but made her first on stage appearance as a singer … and a singer she remained forever more. Her easy going manner and distinctive ability to get ‘inside’ a lyric became her trademark. Although she performed with big name big bands, including the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Chris preferred smaller groups and established her lasting reputation touring internationally as a solo performer leading her own trio. She was one of only a handful of white vocalists considered to be, incontestably, pure jazz singers.
Frank Wess, Jon Faddis and The Barcelona Jazz Orquestra play John Birks Gillespie’s classic composition. “Birks Works” has been recorded by many of the greatest in jazz … and “Birks”? Well, that refers to Dizzy’s middle name! Jazz At Lincoln Center, 11/2012.
In Jazzcast #003 I pointed out the symbiotic relationship between jazz and other forms of music. On Lush Life, the second in a trilogy of 1980s jazz albums with Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle, Linda temporarily abandons her pop/rock stardom in favor of more traditional fare. Her excellence in any genre becomes immediately apparent from the first few bars, with the album going Triple Platinum registering sales of over 3 million copies in the United States alone.
The Modern Jazz Quartet began in 1952, performing music influenced by classical, cool jazz, blues, and bebop. They carved out their own special niche playing elegant, restrained music, that utilized sophisticated counterpoint, while retaining a strong blues feel.