Jump to content

Helen Merrill (1930-), Internationally Famous American Jazz Vocalist With a Six-Decade Career

The Hersch

Recommended Posts

Helen Merrill is one of my favorite singers. I think she's probably my very favorite jazz singer who isn't or wasn't black, which actually puts her in some pretty rarefied company. Here she is singing "

" on her first album, Helen Merrill, in 1954, with the brilliant trumpeter Clifford Brown, who had a career of about fifteen minutes before being killed in an automobile accident, which also claimed the life of jazz pianist Richie Powell, brother of the legendary Bud Powell. What a sad loss. Brownie didn't even have a chance to get fucked up on heroin like most of his contemporaries.

And here's Helen Merrill in the title track of what I guess is my favorite album of hers,
, from 1992. That's the brilliant Wayne Shorter blowing.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"You and the Night and the Music", from the 1998 album of the same title, one of Helen Merrill's last studio recordings sessions, and another of my favorites. I don't know that she ever formally retired, but she'll be 85 this year.

"Deep in a Dream", I believe from 1965 or maybe 1967 with Dick Katz. I think this is on the CD release The Helen Merrill Dick Katz Sessions which I own a copy of, but all of my CDs are still in boxes from my December move. I'm not sure what release this was originally on. I suggest you try to ignore the rather creepy video that comes with this, and listen to the very lovely music.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd say the time is definitely ripe for more Helen Merrill.

"It Never Entered My Mind", by Rodgers and Hart, from their now-forgotten musical "Higher and Higher", which ran on Broadway for 84 performances in 1940.

This was apparently from Helen Merrill's 1963 album In Tokyo, which I've never owned. I was trying to find the recording of this song from her 1989 album with Stan Getz, Just Friends, but all I can find on YouTube is the complete album, which you can listen to here. "It Never Entered My Mind" starts at 5:47, but you might want to listen to the whole album, which is pretty great.


And here is "When Your Lover Has Gone" from the 1960 album Parole e Musica, which was recorded in and originally released in Italy, where Merrill spent part of her career.

Until I just looked this up, I had no idea where this song came from. It was written by E. A. Swan, and featured in the 1931 film Blonde Crazy, starring James Cagney and Joan Blondell. In spite of being a total Cagney groupie, I've never seen this picture. I think I'd better find it.

Well, that's all for now. Enjoy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...