Helen Carr's resourceful singing—like so much of the jazz artistry released on the renowned Bethlehem label in the '50s—continues not only to hold up but to astound.
Helen Carr's resourceful singing—like so much of the jazz artistry released on the renowned Bethlehem label in the '50s—continues not only to hold up but to astound. This 20-song set represents her entire recorded legacy, making the collection essential. A pliant wonder, with a style uniquely her own, Carr has touches of Chris Connor's cool, Jeri Southern's openness, and just a dash of Sarah Vaughan and Anita O'Day's sassiness in her voice. Carr largely chose the seldom-done standards for the recording dates, although the familiar "I'm Glad There Is You" merits as much of a listen as her own wistful "Memory of the Rain." On eight of the tracks, she's accompanied by an all-star quintet featuring alto-sax giant Charlie Mariano; for the rest, she fronts a pianoless trio led by cult guitarist Howard Roberts. Although Carr was praised by critics at the time, her two records sadly never broke through, and her light soon dimmed. There isn't even an entry about her in the encyclopedic New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Let's hope that this reissue, with the distribution push of WEA, will reveal her talent to a new (and larger) audience and offset that shameful omission.—BH