Saturday, September 22, 2007

A phone call from Carole Creveling!

Carole Creveling is a woman of her word. Just as she promised her sister (see previous post), singer Creveling (not her last name nowadays) called me this morning. And make that "erstwhile singer," for her 1955 LP "Here Comes Carole Creveling vol. 1"---there was never a v.2--- and a 45 from the next year mark just about the only professional entertainment activity for Carole, who was still a teenager when she recorded the album. Along with "Whatever Happened To CC," the other question mark hanging over my head for the past year-or-so is how the making of the disc came to pass, i.e. an unknown singer on a one-off record label emanating from a sleepy Southern California beach resort (she continues to reside in SoCal) that still managed to receive a major and favorable review in the bigtime music mag Down Beat.

Carole explained to me that the album was the brainchild of a couple who owned a music store in Laguna Beach, where Carole lived, and sensed that she not only possessed great potential as a singer but also realized that at age eighteen she was quite ready for a trip into the recording studio. As to exactly what studio it was in L.A. where the album was recorded is lost in the dim recesses of time and Carole's memory. My guess is the historic Radio Recorders. But she was more-or-less aware that the musicians who accompanied her were important studio players, especially Jimmy Wyble and Bill Baker from the album session and Lou Levy, Chuck Flores and Max Bennett on the followup single. She knew, for example, that Levy was an accompanist for major singers in addition to his career as a solo artist.

Meanwhile, she is deeply flattered at all the attention her recording is finally receiving. All in due time, I suppose, is the moral here. One surmises that she still sings around the house, but much like Jo Stafford told me one time, Carole said she wouldn't dream of singing again in public without a great deal of woodshedding (not that she's even contemplating doing so). Stafford also left the business in favor of home and family. In Creveling's case, however, she'd barely got her feet wet in the entertainment profession before walking away from it.

Talking with this very pleasant and charming woman on the phone this morning was just like chatting with someone I've known all my life. She could not have been more charming and accommodating.
---Bill Reed

Listen to "Now We Know" from "Here Comes Carole Creveling" now available on SSJ Records (Japan)


September 2007 SSJ Records releases

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This just in. . .

"Detective Bill Reed" (see previous post) has finally tracked down jazz singer Carole Creveling after more than a year of searching for her!

I was first attracted to Carole when I became aware of the huge amounts that record collectors were paying for the ultra-scarce 1955 LP, "Here Comes Carole Creveling." But the album, when I finally was able to hear it, turned out to be uncommonly good and I have spent many hours since then trying to learn more details about the genesis of this vinyl wonder. I even went so far as to shepherd the release of this LP as a CD in Japan. It came out only this week in that country and has already garnered several highly favorable reviews.

Last week I finally unearthed a party who was undoubtedly a relation of Carole's. It turned out to be her sister.

How I finally found Carole Creveling's sister is a story best left for some other long night around the camp fire. (But I do need to acknowledge the Watson-like advice of Page Cavanaugh Fan Number One, Larry Canova.) Today I have had two phone conversations with Creveling's sibling. She assures me that this near-legendary phantom singer will phone me this weekend to fill me in on all the details about her brief but fascinating career. I can hardly wait. It should be added that Carole has gone about her daily activities, which include a full-time job, entirely unaware of the steadily increasing interest in her half-century-old one-off.

What I have learned thus far is that Carole recorded the album---believe it or not---when she was only 18 years old. She sounds years more mature on "Here Comes Carole Creveling." How it came to be made is something I have yet to learn. However, I now know this much: Carole is alive and well and still living in Southern California. And. . .she turns out to be not nearly as advanced in years as I might have assumed judging from the mature sound of her voice on the 1955 album.

To cut to the chase, by the time Carole was twenty she had married, and had left (so to speak) the business. One that she was barely a part of to begin with. Soon she was a full-time mother and wife and apparently never gave much more thought to a professional singing career. Motherhood's gain was jazzdom's loss.

I look forward to hearing from Carole herself this weekend.


In addition to an article in the September issue of Swing Journal (Japan) and coverage in a recent Mainichi Shinbun, here is a nice entry about SSJ's Carole Creveling CD that has just appeared on the Japanese blog of distinguished jazz critic Makoto Gotoh . It is followed by an English translation.

音楽的な興味に加えて、将来の養老年金のためにも是非1枚入手したい(ビル・リード)  たった1枚のレコードを残して消息を絶った女性歌手。その消息を探す旅というのは、マニアにとってワクワクするような企画だ。ライナーを書いたビル・リードは、アマゾン秘境を探検する川口浩か、埋蔵金を求め巨大ブルドーザーであちこちを掘削し続ける糸井重里のように、可能な限りの証言と資料を求めて放浪するが、結局、彼女の居場所はつかめない。《それは、才能的にトップクラスとはいえなくとも(実際にはかなり上手いシンガーだったが)、彼女のアルバム“Here Comes Carole Creveling”がコレクター市場に出ると相当の値段になるからである。タイトルには“Volume One”とついているが、続編は作られなかったはずだ。もし存在するなら、音楽的な興味に加えて、将来の養老年金のためにも是非1枚入手したいところだ。(中略)現地の公立図書館へ行き、1955年ごろの電話帳にCarole Crevelingを見つけた。そして同じ住所にGeorge W. and Florine Creveling。キャロルの両親だろうか? しかしその住所にCreveling姓の家は存在しなかった。アルバム・カバーのように、キャロルが海から現れることを半分期待していたが、願いは見事に打ち砕かれてしまった》 1955年に録音された唯一?のアルバムに、その翌年発表されたシングル用の2曲を追加しての復刻。当時売り出し中のクリス・コナー(ほどではないが)を思わせる、ほどよくハスキーな声質、素朴な歌唱がどこか愛おしい。 こういう作品が復刻されることは、同じ名盤だけが何度も繰り返して復刻される状況よりも、少なからず意義深い。この再発で彼女に対する認識が高まり、リードも調べられなかった新事実が判明するかもしれない。リード探偵の活躍に幸多かれ。2007年8月22日発売。XQAM-1021

"Besides the Musical Interest, I Would Love to Find a Copy [of v.2] for My Retirement Plan”

By: Makoto Gotoh

Finding the whereabouts of a female vocalist who vanished completely after leaving one record behind can prove a real challenge for an otokichi [Japanese slang for a sound maniac]. Bill Reed, who wrote the liner notes for this CD, like [actor and explorer] Hiroshi Kawaguchi, who explores deep in the Amazon or [notable essayist and ad copy writer] Shigesato Itoi, who uses a gigantic bulldozer in his attempts to hit a jackpot of buried treasures here and there, Reed meanders hither and yon in pursuit of witnesses and materials relating to singer Carole Creveling. Nevertheless, he was finally unable to find her.

Reed writes that Creveling is of interest: “If not by dint of talent (although she‘s quite good), then by virtue of the relatively large sums of money that her lone LP, Here Comes Carole Creveling, from 1955, have fetched in recent times on the collectors’market. . . The album jacket bore the legend “Volume One,” implying that a sequel was forthcoming. But there was never, to the best of my knowledge, a volume two. If there was, I’d love to have a copy, not only for its intrinsic musical value, but also for the nice addition to my retirement fund its eventual sale would unquestionably provide.“

Reed visited a local public library: “ First off, I checked old phone books (circa 1955) in the public library. Sure enough, not only was there a Carole Creveling listed (without question the dame---to employ a bit of Chandlerian argot---I was looking for), but there also resided at the same address George W. and Florine Creveling. Daughter, father and mother? Today, however, there is no longer a sign of any resident bearing that family name in Laguna Beach. (I’ll confess that I half expected her to come wading out of the Pacific Ocean a la the cover of “Here Comes. . .“).

What we have here is the only album (?) recorded in 1955 along with two sides of a 45 that came out the next year and have been re-discovered. Her style reminds us of Chris Connor (but not quite), nevertheless the husky voice, not overwhelmingly so, is quite lovely and subdued.

Unlike the classic albums that keep getting re-issued over and over again, such works being re-printed have great significance. With Carole Creveling’s release, we may see more interest in her and may find out some new facts Reed could not uncover. I wish Detective Reed the best.

translated from the Japanese by J.