Ethel Llewellyn Ennis was born November 28, 1932 in Baltimore, Maryland and began performing on the piano in high school, but her natural vocal abilities soon eclipsed those as a pianist.
Embarking on a solo career Ethel recorded a number of songs for Atlantic Records before her 1955 debut of “Lullabies for Losers” on Jubilee Records. Two years later she moved to Capitol Records releasing “A Change of Scenery” followed by “Have You Forgotten”.
Ennis took a six-year hiatus from recording while she toured Europe with Benny Goodman. By the early Sixties she was back in the studio recording another four albums for RCA Records but unfortunately was dissatisfied with the creative direction and artist management left for a second recording hiatus of eight years. During this time she recorded the title song for the 1967 film Mad Monster Party and in 1973 the “10 Sides of Ethel Ennis” emerged on record store shelves.
That same year Ennis was invited to sing at the re-inauguration of Richard Nixon and her unusual a cappella rendition of the national anthem shocked some, but inspired many others. Ethel returned to Baltimore, rarely performing outside the area over the next several decades. 1980 saw her return to the studio releasing a live album, but it would be fourteen years later before her self-titled album came out, followed by the 1998 release of “If Women Ruled The World” was released on Savoy Jazz and a 2005 live recording of her performance at Montpelier was released to critical acclaim.
Etta Jones was born on November 25, 1928 in Aiken, South Carolina and was raised in Harlem, New York City. While in her teens she joined Buddy Johnson’s band and embarked on a nationwide tour. Her first recordings in 1944 Salty Papa Blues and Long, Long Journey were produced by Leonard Feather and backed by Barney Bigard, and George Auld. She would go on to perform with the Earl Hines Sextet from 1949 to ’52.
Over the course of her career Etta worked with Oliver Nelson, Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, Roy Haynes, Gene Ammons and Houston Person, whom she met in one of Johnny Hammond’s bands. Jones’ thirty-year relationship with Person helped to ensure a long and prolific career with h Her best-known recordings were Grammy nominated “Don’t Go To Strangers” in 1960, “Save Your Love For Me” in 1981 and “My Buddy” in 1999.
She recorded for Prestige, Muse and HighNote record labels and secured her a loyal and devoted following. In 2008 her album Don’t Go To Strangers was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Vocalist Etta Jones passes away from cancer on October 16, 2001 at age 72 in Mount Vernon, New York.
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Charade is a sad, lonely Parisian waltz composed by Henry Mancini with lyrics by Johnny Mercer for the 1963 film of the same name starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Now a classic song getting perpetual jazz encores song and is the theme to this romantic comedy, thriller, mystery film. The supporting cast included Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy, Dominique Minot, Ned Glass and Jacques Marin.
The Story: When husband Charles is murdered leaving town, Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Hepburn) is tasked by the CIA administrator Matthau) to deliver the $250,000 in gold that five men stole from the U.S. that was to be delivered to the French Resistance and that her husband double-crossed and took for himself. Insistent that she knows where it is even though she may not know it. In walks Peter Joshua (Grant) to help her move into her apartment and the hunt for the money begins. Reggie falls for Peter, names constantly change, there’s murder and chases through the streets of Paris. They realize the money is in a priceless stamp and this lead up to the discovery of the identity of Carson Dyle and who the government agent is.
Clairdee was born on November 19th in Tucson, Arizona but was raised in Denver, Colorado. She grew up harmonizing and dancing with her sisters and brothers in a show biz minded family, taking to improvising naturally. She formed a four-part vocal group in high school, but it wasn’t until after college that she focused on jazz.
She listened and learned from pioneering jazz vocalists such as Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter but it was veteran Hammond B3 organist William “Big Daddy” Sailes who took her under his wing and taught her a repertoire of standards and how to develop arrangements to suit her voice.
Moving to the Bay Area in 1986, Clairdee performed various styles of music over the next decade but by the mid 90s settled into jazz working with Eddie Henderson, John Handy, Roland Hanna and Allen Farnham.
Influenced by Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartman, Billy Eckstine and Nat King Cole she developed a style that made each song she interprets hers, allowing her to stir an emotion. As an educator she conducts master classes around the country and continues to perform and record.
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Sheila Jordan was born Sheila Jeanette Dawson on November 18, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan but grew up in Summerhill, Pennsylvania. By the age of 28 she returned to Detroit and began playing piano and singing semi-professionally in jazz clubs. She worked a trio that composed lyrics to Charlie Parker’s arrangements, who influenced her greatly.
In 1951, she moved to New York and started studying harmony and music theory with Lennie Tristano and Charles Mingus and married pianist Duke Jordan a year later. By the 60s she was gigging and doing session work in Greenwich Village and around town in various clubs; and in 1962 was discovered and recorded by George Russell on his album The Outer View. That led to her recording Portrait of Sheila in 1962 that was sold to Blue Note.
Over the next decade Sheila withdrew from music, supported herself as a legal secretary but by the mid 70s was working again with musicians like Don Heckman, Roswell Rudd, Lee Konitz and Steve Kuhn. She has had a notable career as a solo artist since then with her ability to improvise entire lyrics, although success has been limited.
Jordan has been an Artist In Residence teaching at City College, worked in an advertising agency, recorded for Steeplechase, ECM, Home Eastwind, Grapevine, Palo Alto, Blackhawk and Muse record labels. She has performed and recorded with George Gruntz, Steve Swallow, Carla Bley Harvie Swartz and Bob Moses among others and as a songwriter continues to work in both bebop and free jazz mediums.