lunes, 15 de marzo de 2010

Lurlean Hunter: Night Life (1956) / Stepping Out (1958)

Singer Lurlean Hunter made five albums on her own during the second half of the '50s, starting out as a Lonesome Gal on RCA and winding up still feeling Blue & Sentimental for Atlantic. She was discovered in Chicago where she had been singing in many clubs, including a collaboration with drummer Red Saunders that held forth at the Club DeLisa. Hunter's move to New York City in 1955 was prompted by RCA's interest in recording her. The singer's recording career actually began before she left the Windy City at the behest of indie jazz labels, some of them quite short-lived — such as Seymour, with a catalog topping out at four releases. The press described Hunter as a "blues thrush" in announcing her interpretations of three numbers actually written by the label's owner, producer and record store owner Seymour Schwartz. The latter promotional blurb inevitably told some truth about Hunter's stylistic traits, if not her relation to winged fauna. Her recordings were more about rhythm & blues and pop than jazz, yet were done in an era when such sessions often involved fine mainstream jazz players in the accompaniment. This album, Night Life (1956), for example, featured pianist Hank Jones and tenor saxophonist Al Cohn. It is actually one of the classiest records from Lurlean, much richer and more jazz-based than the sometimes-bluesy cover images she was given, a quality that sounds especially great here amidst fuller backings from Manny Albam, an arranger who really helps Hunter cross over strongly for the set. The record is beautifully done, poised, but still filled with soul and feeling, and other players on the date include Joe Newman on trumpet, and Barry Galbraith on guitar. There are great interpretations of some lesser-known numbers like 'Moondrift' and 'Night Life' - plus 'Gentleman Friend', 'What a Difference a Day Makes', 'Have You Met Miss Jones', and 'Sunday'. Lurlean's mellow smooth sound can be also fully appreciated on her second release for RCA/Vik, 'Stepping Out' (1958). This album has got a nice jazzy feel too (thanks mostly to an eight-piece jazz group who provide backing in four of the tracks), and despite the occasional presence of strings courtesy of Phil Moore and His Orchestra, these are neither sleepy nor intrusive and the result is really top notch overall. It includes some stunning renditions of standards like 'Old Devil Moon', 'Blues in the Night', 'You Do Something to Me' and 'Under a Blanket of Blue', amongst others.Hunter's final recordings were done in 1964, at which point she was still well under 40 years old. She is known to have died young, although details of this tragedy are murky. In one version of the story she was knocked off by a mobster lover, yet whether anybody was really that mean to Lurlean cannot be completely confirmed.

5 comentarios:


  2. I've heard of Ms. Hunter, but have not heard her. Thank you for providing the opportunity.

  3. Is there a reason why the song "This Time The Dream's On Me" is missing from "Night Life"?

  4. Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you about some broken links on your site. Please email me back and I would be happy to point them out to you.