Love Locked Out: songs by BEV KELLY
BEV KELLY is accompanied by – Jimmy Jones (p) Kenny Burrell (g) Milt Hinton (b) all selections
Jerome Richardson (fl, ts) and Osie Johnson (drs) on Side 1. #1 and 6; Side 2, #1 and 4)
Harry Edison (tp) and Johnny Cresci (drs) on Side 1, #1; Side 2, 2
Roy Hayes (drs) plays on the other four selections. Jimmy Jones (arr)
Bell Sound Studios, NYC; October 27, 28 and 30, 1959
1.My Ship (4:13) (I. Gershwin –Weill)
2.Lost April (1:53) (DeLange – Newman – Spencer)
3.Lonelyville (4:20) (Hackaday – Marks)
4.I’m Gonna Laugh You right Out on My Life (2:15) (Coleman – McCarthy)
5.Weak for the Man (3:18) (Jeanie Burns)
6.Love, Look Away (3:39) (Rogers – Hammerstein)
1.Thursday’s Child (3:04) (Grand – Boyd)
2.Love locked Out (3:47) (Kester – Noble)
3.Away from Me (3:10) (David Ward)
4.Fool That I Am (3:10) (Floyd Hunt)
5.Gloomy Sunday (4:10) (Javor – Seress - Lewis)
As very substantial number of listeners in the Chicago area have known for a couple years (and as listeners all over the country will now, we trust, also have an opportunity to learn), young BEV KELLY is a singer with a good deal to say. Possibly even more important, simply because it is a considerably more rare quality, is the added fact that she appears to have all the necessary musical and emotional equipment to say it very well indeed.
Her first Riverside album, is largely devoted to songs of love gone awry, as immediately indicated by the choice of Love Locked Out as its title tune, and underlined by the titles, even if you’re not familiar with all the songs themselves, of several others. Not unexpectedly, then, the emphasis is on down tempos, and nothing ever gets up to finger-popping speed. As a result, the singer if free to create and maintain an intimate, moody, often wistful feeling. There is full opportunity here for Bev to display her warmth and sensitivity, as well as her ability to know what’s good material for her when she hears it (she is primarily responsible for the choice of songs here). In addition, by staying in the ballad and lightly-swinging area, Bev has handed herself a tough challenge. It is comparatively easy to give the impression of swinging (whether you really are or not) when the tempo is up and your accompanists can bear down crisply and swiftly on the beat. But in the tempo range that this album is in, it’s just about impossible to fake it: the lilt and swing must be subtly but firmly and permanently inside you – where it is in all good and truly swinging jazz. That’s the test Bev Kelly faces here. Each listener will have to decide for himself just how he thinks she makes out, but it might as well be made clear that the vote in this corner is, most enthusiastically, that she is way, way over a passing grade.
The standard and by now rather boring fame of discussing what makes a “jazz singer” and who is one (as distinguished from a mere pop singer trying to make like jazz), is something we don’t propose to get shoved into in this case. Instead, let us note the wonderfully noncommittal phrase that reviewers and such often like to use. When they want to avoid the issue, a favorite term is “jazz-oriented singer.” In the best sense of the word (which is not precisely what is usually meant when it is used), Bev Kelly is thoroughly jazz-oriented. She has listened hard, has associated herself with jazz and jazz musicians, has always considered singing a part of jazz and not just something superimposed on it. Jazz is in her bones and in her voice. She is, in her own way, a stylist. Never mind about what other singers might or might not have influenced her – the “influence” game is another standard and pretty dull one. Like any other artists with taste and good pair of ears, she has of course heard carefully the singers everyone should hear. The important point is that she is no one’s imitator.
Not exclusively either a straightforward “story-telling” singer or an all-out note-bender, Bev has the ability to approach a song in both such ways. She has the intelligence and maturity to understand what a set of lyrics is all about and how it can plausibly be interpreted; and she has the firm musical background and knowledge needed to move about within the chord structure of a melody without losing her place.
Bev was born in June of 1934, in the small town of Rittman, Ohio, and studied both singing and piano with sufficient success to win a scholarship to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. While studying voice there, she gradually slipped into a professional career through various local jobs; then, in 1954, she teamed up with Pat Moran in what developed into an unusual and quite successful vocal-and-instrumental quartet. In March of ’58 Bev made the inevitable decision to try her luck on her own,beginning her solo life with a long engagement at the Cloister Inn in Chicago, backed by the Ramsey Lewis Trio. She has since worked at such other key Chicago spots as Mistre Kelly’s, Dante’s Inferno and the Playboy Club. Now it’s everyone else’s chance to pick up on what Chicago has been enjoying.
The repertoire features some of those superior almost-standards that come close to meeting the requirements of the mythical A & R man who is supposed to have asked for songs “that everyone knows, but that haven’t been done before” (numbers like Thursday’s Child and Kurt Weill’s My Ship and Ray Noble’s Love Locked Out), plus some highly intriguing, newer, and even lesser known material.
Bev’s very helpful support here prominently includes JIMMY JONES, a most adept and sensitive pianist who for many years was rightly considered indispensable by Sarah Vaughan. (There is a quite understandable, if physically impractical, school of thought that maintains that all singers should always be accompanied by Jimmy.) Kenny Burrell, on guitar, and Milt Hinton, on bass, also contribute firm rhythm backing throughout; and there are important and tasteful comments on several numbers from the brilliant trumpet on Harry Edison or form Jerome Richardson on tenor sax and flute.
Notes by ORRIN KEEPEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Back-liner photo by CHARLES STEWART
Recording Engineer: BILL McMEEKIN (Bell Sound Studios)
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc
235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.