May 16, 2015

Two Exclusives By Jane, Plus Blowing Saori, A Politically-Incorrect Pocahontas And A Butterflies Are Free Secret Song!


Don't you love a good mystery? I do, and this one's Cheerfully Exclusive! Let's investigate, shall we? Jane Fielding, a former teen ice skater and high-fashion model in Miami, was barely in her twenties when she moved to Los Angeles and recorded two jazz LPs in the late 1950's (one of them was originally pressed on red vinyl!). And then - poof - she was gone. She married, had kids, divorced, but little is known of her life overall, or why she didn't continue recording. She died in 1997 in Palm Springs. You won't find her anywhere in Wikipedia and her AllMusic bio is barely two sentences long. So what gives?


Jane should be much better known than she is, and you'll understand why when you listen to her LPs, which, according to legend, were actually recorded as demos, left unedited and then haphazardly released, or tip-toed out with. That last part's difficult to comprehend. In fact, it's almost criminal. Give a listen to her singing "How Deep Is the Ocean" on "Jazz Trio," or "Make the Man Love Me" from "Embers Glow," and you'll realize you're hearing a burgeoning master. She sings just behind the beat, with a mid-to-low register which somehow combines the husky cool of Chris Connor with the heartbreak of Beverly Keeney. Plus, she's smashing to look at.


Jane was not without her fans, most notably Oscar Peterson, but this doesn't appear to have extended her career. Interestingly, there's supposedly two albums worth of unreleased material that she recorded before leaving Los Angeles (probably locked in someone's trunk somewhere), but the chances of them surfacing look slim. Still, by the few accounts there are, Jane seems to have led a lovely life and to have had an almost enchanted childhood. At age fifteen, she was already being hired for professional gigs. During one, a musician pulled her aside and offered some sage advice. "You're not a singer," he said, "you're a musician who sings jazz."


Japanese jazz fans are some of the most discerning in the world, so it's no surprise that Jane Fielding's work has long stayed in print there, or that artists such as Anita O'Day were so warmly welcomed at live club dates during their lifetime. Only Manhattan, it's been said, can claim to have more jazz clubs than Tokyo (but I doubt that's the case today; they're dropping like flies in NYC). Premiere jazz clubs like Shinjuku Pit Inn, which has been going strong for over fifty years, and major jazz festivals like Fuji Rock, are just two reasons why Japan is a jazz lover's paradise. There are several reasons why this is the case, and so it isn't exactly shocking, or shouldn't be, that talented newcomers are bursting onto the scene seemingly every day, like Saori Yano, who's striking a sassy pose with her sax just for you: 


I say sassy, because she got her start at age fourteen by dutifully calling up every single jazz club in the phone book until she found one that would allow her to audition. She got hired, of course, then landed a record deal a year later. I recently stumbled across her 2010 release "Bebop At The Savoy," and for reals, I haven't had this much fun listening to a sax CD in a long time. She plays insanely fast and smooth; I felt like I was levitating during the number, "The Kicker," and it was only the first track. You can hear the influence of greats like Charlie Parker, for example, but she springboards off them, playing with an expressive buoyancy - and yes, optimism (which needn't, I think, be considered an oxymoron in jazz, though many believe otherwise) - that's clearly all her own. Really, she's not to be missed.


Finally, you know Disney animators had fun animating Pocahontas' hair in the 1995 animated musical. It's almost its own character. First, a gentle breeze...


Then a gale force of wind...


Then, wheeee, a mini-tornado...


And yes, there was Pocahontas shampoo (and yes, I really want some). Oh, and wouldn't you know, there was a politically-incorrect problem with the otherwise terrific original songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, et al, specifically with the lyrics. To give you an example, the song "Savages" includes this charming ditty: "What can you expect from filthy little heathens? Dirty redskin devils!" The CD was released just before the movie, then it was quickly yanked and replaced ("Dirty redskin devils," for example, became "Dirty shrieking devils"). All was well, but the Internet never forgets (and neither do I) (for some reason, the Spanish CD version still includes the offending lyrics). Here for posterity and your amusement is the original pressing. If you've never heard this score before, you're in for a treat. It's surprisingly mellow for a Disney score - in a good way - and now, years away from all the blitzkrieg commercial fanfare, "Colors Of The Wind" sounds better than ever.


Did you know? The Secret Song File has been tweaked and saturated on many occasion. On film, that is (get your mind out of the gutter!). Speaking of, a certain best-selling singer who used to have an astonishing multi-octave range, but now lip-syncs for her life in a new Vegas show, just put out a new Best Of CD. Hooray! Release the kraken butterflies!


Did you know she has children now? More than one. Did you know she still tries to wear things like this? Gurl, just don't. You have a fine body; stop wrapping yourself up in sausage casing. Although, who am I kidding? I love that she loves hoochie clothes and. Will. Never. Ever. Stop. Wearing. Them. I love that she knew exactly what the brave firemen wanted to see during the 9/11 Tribute Concert and wore a tasteful (for her) shoulder-less gown with her maracas all but spilling out. If it's trashy, tacky and expensive, she's all over it! She's the ultimate goil from Long Island.

And what's not to love about that?

Spread a li'l tackiness in the comments, if you like!