Hooray! It's the silly season, a time to get tan (responsibly), chillax, buy things, and revel in the summer's looniest news dramas (my favorite from 2015 was this). And, yes, it's also a time to listen to terrific music that makes you happy. And if Rose Murphy doesn't make you happy...oh, never mind, I know she will (she wasn't known as the "Chi-Chi Girl" for nothing).
A gifted musician, she began her career in the 1930s by playing "intermission piano" for the likes of Count Basie, but once she started singing - with her irresistible high-pitched voice - she soared to new heights. This is truly a case of a singer who used her voice like an instrument. When she performed, her percussive vocal scats and effects were just another element in her arsenal. By the 1940s, she was recording LPs, and by the 1950s, she was booked at nightclubs worldwide. In fact, she was still touring well into the 1980s. In 1957, she recorded "Not Cha-Cha But Chi-Chi," a blissful album which also has her performing piano on several tracks.
Did I mention that she was still touring throughout the 1980s? I did? Oh. But get this. She was still cutting LPs at that time, too. In 1980, a French label released "Mighty Like A Rose" - a Cheerfully Chi-Chi Exclusive just for you! - and to my astonishment, she sounds every bit as joyous as she did in her heyday. If anything, her vocals are even sharper, while her piano playing is honed to perfection. This is Chi-Chi at it's chi-chi-est.
Meanwhile, hold that doughnut tight, Connie. You've got some singing to do.
Connie is many things. Singer, dancer, actress (*cough*), old school Republican (I know) and a would-be writer of thoroughly bland recipes. And yet - and yet - there's nothing quite as giggly as Connie taking on songs popularized by Hank Williams. No, for reals. From the very first, chirpy track, "Hey, Good Lookin,'" this 1962 release is chock-a-block with indefensible fun. There's no rhyme or reason to any of it, and that would include her platinum-thin vocals and the sometimes wildly overeager ensemble of musicians. In a normal world, it actually shouldn't exist. But it does. And somehow, by singing Hank Williams' tunes, Connie sounds even more Connie than ever before.
As faithful readers of this blog (in both if its incantations) may know, I have a soft spot for Etta Jones. That's Jones. Not James.
This is a wonderful CD for anyone interested in her dynamic, smooth-as-silk jazz vocals, which can slide like a blues trombone up and down the scale; she makes you feel every ache and triumph in every note. Upon her death in 2001 - the same day that her last original LP was released - saxophonist Houston Person said, "It hurts me that she didn't get what she deserved. She was out there for so many, many years." Let's do our best to change that.
Panties, panties, panties. Where did The Secret Song File leave them last night? She remembers dancing on a nightclub table and twirling them in her hand above her head. And there a guy who invited her back to his private soiree in some "hot," newly gentrified neighborhood. And the dealer who led her to his place (and his futon) somewhere in Eagle Rock. It's not like they had her credit card number stitched on them, so she's not worried about that. But they were relatively new Faire Frou Frous. Oh, well.
Speaking of losing things (or not), The Secret Song File holds tight to her spanking-new, debut CD by a certain Nashville-based songstress who's a little bit blues, a little bit jazz and skilled beyond her years. Why, her talent all but springs forth (*cough*hint*). The Secret Song File may misplace her panties now and again - and really, who doesn't? - but she won't be careless with this CD. It's that good. And with all the crap around these days, what a breath of fresh air.
Have a great 4th of July! And if you're outside the U.S., enjoy the regular day!
Pop some fireworks in the comments, if you like!