Helen Merrill – Parole e Musica


Notte e Giorno
Night and Day
Accade Tutto A Me
Everything Happens To Me
Autunno a New York
Autumn in New York
Perchè Non Fai Di Tutto
Why Don't You Do Right
Tu Non Sai Cosa Sia L'Amore
You Don't Know What Love Is
Queste Piccole Sciocche Cose
These Foolish Things
Aprile A Parigi
April in Paris
Ti Ho Nella Pelle
I've Got You Under My Skin
Salice Piangi Per Me
Willow Weep For Me
Quando il tuo Amore
When Your Lover Has Gone
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Helen Merrill has done something very few others have done in the world of
jazz for, just with one record, she has come to be considered one of jazz's
greats. Usually a budding new star has to do quite a bit of waiting before he or
she can be acclaimed. It all depends on the public's opinion of the musician's
merits. Sarah Vaughan?amongst the singers ?and Julian "Cannonball"
Adderley?among the instrumentalists?have had to take their place in the
queue awaiting the people's favourable reaction. In Helen Merrill's case
however, it only needed her 1955 recording with Clifford Brown and Oscar
Pettiford?with arrangements by Quincy Jones?for the critics to state that at
long last jazz had a fair skinned singer. And yet we cannot exclude June
Christy, Anita O'Day or Chris Connor. It was just that Helen seemed to have
that certain "je ne sais quoi" which, before her splendid entry into the realm of
jazz, seemed to be exclusive right and property of the coloured singers?with
Billie Holliday leading the field.
Helen was born in New York thirty years ago. Her "education" in jazz was
handled by musicians like Bud Powell, Miles Davis and J. J. Johnson, and then
she carried on to her first important musical engagement?Earl Hines and his
orchestra. Her style is decisively "instrumental" and her interpretations never
set up that old problem of styling which often crops up when we think of the
recordings of other modern singers, that is whether it's really jazz or whether
we are listening only ballads to pazz style. Helen uses her voice with
intelligente and is deliberately "discret" i.e. she tries to make her voice seem
like an added instrument to the orchestra. Her recordings of "Willow Weep for
Me" and "Everything Happens to Me" are especially good examples of this
ability of hers.
In 1960 Helen Merrill went on a tour round Europe and was the star at the
Comblain La Tour Jazz Festival. Later, she came to Italy in order to record a
series of concerts for a television programme called "Moderato Swing" with
Piero Umiliani and his orchestra. She has also recorded 4 songs in Italian with
Armando Trovajoli and his orchestra (a 45 r.p.m. extended play?RCA EPA 30-
387). She has even been to sing in Japan…
In this record are gathered the songs that Helen Merrill sung for the Italian TV
show I have just mentioned. The Italian words have been kept from the original
and they are by Fernando Cajati.
In "Night and Day", "Everything Happens to Me", "Autumn in New York", "These
Foolish Things" and "I've Got You under My Skin", Helen Merril is accompained
by a sextet made up by Piero Umiliani (piano), Nini Rosso (trumpet), Gino
Marinacci (baritone sax), Enzo Grillini (guitar), Berto Pisano (bass) and Sergio
Conti (drums). In the other items we hear instead a quartet formed by Piero
Umiliani (piano and celesta), Nino Culasso (trumpet), Tonino Ferrelli (bass) and
Ralph Ferraro (drums).