Like a jack-in-the box, it's always fun to see what pops up from the Sinatra Society of Japan Presents series. Indeed, the series comes up with albums that are so fascinating. One of these two extremely rare recordings is "Half Past Lonely" by Flo Bennett, a singer who worked as a club performer in Los Angeles as well as a demo singer. Even now she is active in Palm Springs as a performer. Nevertheless, she was not given the opportunity of a legitimate recording despite the fact that she was in such demand among songwriters for demo work. Consequently, she recorded only one album which was produced by herself and mostly given to friends. The album was recorded in 1962. And now, voila, here it is available in the marketplace as a Sinatra Society One Shot Wonder. A very important aspect of the album is that Bennett asked songwriters of her acquaintace to provide most of the music. She then added a few standards. Also playing a big part are the talents of such musicians as Plas Johnson and Irving Ashby. Bennett sings rather straightforwardly with a slightly husky voice in an emotional style that is most mesmerizing. Her singing is quite convincing causing me truly fall in love with her voice.
Male vocalist Dick Noel was a mainstay of Ray Anthony's band. After leaving Anthony he released a few singles with several minor labels. But after moving to Chicago he gained a reputation as a singer for jingles, including numerous ones for United Airlines and MacDonald's, thus losing the opportunity to record on his own. This One Shot Wonder CD, "A Time for Love," was recorded in 1978 when a pianist Larry Novak, recognizing the talent of Dick, brought him into the studio to produce the album on their own in Chicago. It is believed to have sold 5,000- 6,000 copies. Later, label owner and producer Wayne Knight, who liked the album, released the record on his label, Sounds Great. The new release had a slight change of repertoire (liner notes for this issue were written by Knight's good friend, Mel Torme). With the accompaniment of just Novak's piano, Noel sings ballads with well-controlled emotion---no haste---in a quiet, soothing manner. The end results are quite incredible. I would like to hear more and more of Dick Noel. ---Y. Omura, translated from the Japanese by J. Both are available at dustygroove.com
From Rex Reed:
I am not sure I can adequately express the ecstasy I feel listening to Dick Noel. Who/what/where/whatever happened to. . .Many questions under familiar headings flood my mind and make me want to hear more. The phrasing, the sensitivity, the perfect modulations, the clarity and intelligence, the goosebumps his timbre produces...I think he is out of this world. Liner notes by Mel Torme, no less.
translation by J: "Let Me Write the liner notes for this album": Mel Torme
This is the album, by a rather obscure male vocalist, that Mel Torme---Yes, THAT Mel Torme---asked to write the liner notes for when he heard his voice for the first time. He had popped by the studio where work was being done on it and was so greatly moved by what he heard that he said, "Please let me write the liner notes." It is commonplace for a writer, such as myself, who is not mainstream to make a request like this. In the process, the writer also benefits. However, Mel Torme is not a noted critic, but rather a very popular singer. Therefore, this writing would not benefit him in any way. Torme must have decided to do this with a strong belief that "I am the only person who can accurately tell the world how wonderful this rather unknown singer is."
(see liner notes above)
The concluding sentence, "Welcome back, Dick," is so kakkoii (Japanese for "cool.)
________________ Diane's third CD, "You Inspire Me," re-issued in Japan! With a new cover, AND a new bonus track featuring the singer, with the great seven-string-guitarist Howard Alden - that makes EIGHT guitarists playing on this wonderful CD. Other players include: Gene Bertoncini, Paul Bollenback, John Hart, Romero Lubambo, Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, Jack Wilkins. _______________________
________________ Titles include Frankie duetting with himself, thanks to overdubs, on "Adios" -- plus "Hello Young Lovers", "Impossible", "Next Time", "So In Love", "Speak Low", "The Only One", "A Wonderful Day Like Today", and "The Rules Of The Road". CD also features the bonus track "Samantha" -- dedicated to the lead character in Bewitched! All arranged and conducted by jazz great Marty Paich. _______________________
From Dick Noel, a singer who scored big early in his career while working for the Ray Anthony band, but then eventually disappeared into a quiet life of singing radio jingles while living in Chicago! This 1980s album was done in collaboration with pianist Larry Novak. The mixture of vocals and piano is handled wonderfully in the production -- spare and spacious enough to let Noel's maturing vocals find just the right approach on this batch of well-chosen tunes. Titles include "Once Upon A Summertime", "Why Did I Choose You", "My Own Space", "Emily", "A Time For Love", "Send In The Clowns", and "Here's That Rainy Day". Linder notes by Mel Torme. _______________________
The only full album ever recorded by Flo Bennett, a singer who started in Denver, moved to LA in the 1950s, and carved out a successful career as a demo singer for songwriters. This is her only commercial recording. Arranged by Ernie Freeman, and featuring such jazz notables as Plas Johnson, and Irving Ashby. A mix of standards (“You Turned the Tables on Me” etc.) and never-before-recorded Bennett song discoveries.
Last December 15 in Tokyo, SSJ artist Pinky Winters performed at the city's TUC Club. The recorded results of that occasion were released on her 2007 CD World on a String: Pinky Winters Sings Sinatra Live in Tokyo. Several tracks, however, were not included on the album, namely---given the December performance date--- those of a seasonal holiday nature. Here is one of those songs, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas."
Review from Record Collectors magazine (Japan) November 2007
The lone album of Carole Creveling, a so-called "one shot wonder" singer who was carried away by the undertow of rock and roll in the late 50s and early 60s, has been bartered in the rare record market at very high prices. Further, interest in her has been accelerated greatly due to the fact that there isn't much information concerning her. That mystery is written about both interestingly and amusingly by Bill Reed in his liner notes which detail his struggles to research her.
Here, Carole sings mainly standards with the background of a quartet that includes guitarist Jimmy Wyble.
Just like the picture on the jacket in which she appears to be emerging from the ocean, her voice sounds as if the salt air has brought a slight huskiness to it. And a quite fascinating voice it is. Also, we are blessed with two sides of an extremely rare single added as bonus tracks. The best added cut, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, also happens to be the only one on which pianist Lou Levy is heard.
This Week's Reporter's Choice is This! A Reprinted CD of an Extremely Rare Phantom Singer by Hiroshi Kawasaki, Mainichi Shinbun 9/10/07 Tokyo Evening Edition (translated from the Japanese by J.)
People not into jazz can't even begin to grasp certain aspects of that world. They might understand the ordinary collector who tracks down and collects objects in which they're interested, but the jazz fan's pursuit is very different in both quality and volume. It is very common for these people to possess many recordings, with intense studying of the musicians involved and the labels being a part of the process. Also it's not rare for these people to own audio equipment costing many thousands of dollars. Among this group, it is a very usual practice to seek out rare albums and/or first issue or first printings of albums. They may even make a trip to the U.S. in search of such records. Among those rare albums, fans have especially targeted “Here Comes Carole Creveling,” which has just been released on CD by the Sinatra Society of Japan and has quickly become the talk of the town.
The recording was originally released in the U.S. on the minor label, Euterpean. The original album consisted of twelve songs. The CD also contains one single that Creveling recorded. How phantom she is (or was) can be illustrated by the fact that the only known information about her is that she hails from Louisiana [sic]*. Beyond that, there is no information, not even whether she is dead or alive.
Creveling sings in a modern, mid-fifties West Coast style that is very likeable. Despite this CD release, are music maniacs still trying to find that original LP? I wonder.
* This was incorrectly remembered by one of the surviving musicians on the singer's record date. Also, since the 9/10/07 publication of this article, Carole Creveling has at last surfaced and is no long the phantom singer that she once was. (see below)
update: For a limited time only, the Dusty Groove site now has copies of "Here Comes" in stock AND at a reasonable price.