31 May 2006

Toni Wine

Toni Wine 2
Rock 'n' Roll's Love Goddess
Toni Wine
She Sang! She Wrote! She Conquered!
by Donny Jacobs
Throughout the ages, Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, has assumed many exquisite forms for Her periodic visits to the earthly plane. She has been blonde, brunette, redhead and silver-haired; She has disguised herself as European, Asian, African and Native-American; She has appeared as Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and Wiccan women; She has been young and old, rich, poor and middle-class. She has lived in dazzling palaces and humble huts; She has dined from communal cooking pots and from plates of gold. She has traveled all over the world using both man-made conveyances and supernatural means. However and wherever She has gone, Aphrodite has plucked the heartstrings of men with Her graceful fingers. Among the many names She has used are Sheba, Bathsheba, Delilah, Mona Lisa, Fatima, Helen Of Troy, Pocahantas and Mata Hari. More recently, She has assumed the form of a gifted singer/songwriter named Toni Wine.

Nearly everyone who knows the name Toni Wine knows it in a Rock 'n' Roll context. Most people know Toni as the female singing voice of The Archies on their biggest hit recordings. A smaller group of people know her as a Brill Building songwriter, part of a coterie of composers responsible for many of the greatest Rock and Pop recordings of the 1960s. A much smaller group of people, thouse who know and have worked with her, are privy to the truth about Toni Wine. They know that Toni Wine is Divine! Mega-hit producer Jeff Barry calls her "one of those rare talents who not only has the chops and the pipes to do whatever is needed, (she) also 'gets it' . . . the 'it' being the attitude, the acting, and the nuance. I love working with the best, and Toni is one of the elite. She is the bomb!" Mention Toni's name to Ron Dante, former lead singer of The Archies and a fine producer in his own right, and the man all but genuflects. "Toni will always be my favorite female singer," he says. "(She's) up there with the likes of Ronnie Spector, Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark to me. Her presence in the studio always made the other singers (including me) sound better. Working with her through the years on (advertising) jingles, background dates and, of course, The Archies was always pure fun! Toni always cared about the final sound. She gave 100% on every session. That's why 'Sugar, Sugar,' 'Jingle Jangle' and the classic Gene Pitney hit 'It Hurts To Be In Love' have her magic. It's been my pleasure to know and work with Toni and to call her my friend."

In her guise of New York City native Toni Wine, the Goddess of Love gives full vent to Her amazing musical prowess. From an early age, Toni dazzled everyone with her singing, dancing, composing and piano-playing. She auditioned for and won the chance to attend the famous Juilliard School of Music at the tender age of seven (give or take an eon or two)! Studying piano, music theory and counterpoint, she honed her natural gifts; by the time she reached her teens, Toni was writing arrangements for voice and rhythm with the authority and confidence of musicians twice her age. When She was only fourteen, the Love Goddess broke into the East Coast music business. With help from her mother, professional songwriter Paul Kaufman and music director George "Teacho" Wiltshire, she began cutting song demos and singing background on studio dates in Manhattan. On the recommendation of noted writer/producer Jack Keller, Toni became the youngest person ever to join the staff of Columbia Pictures' prestigious Screen Gems Music Division. In 1963, she joined Ron Dante, Chip Taylor, Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Wes Farrell, Neil Diamond and other rising stars as part of the Brill Building's second generation of top songwriting talent. The opinionated youngster more than held her own against seasoned writers like Gerry Goffin and Steve Venet, competing against them for assignments and often collaborating with them on songs.

Her first regular writing partner was Artie Kornfeld, who would later co-produce the legendary Woodstock Music Festival. The Cookies was the first act to record a Wine/Kornfeld song ("Only To Other People") and The Shirelles was the first act to chart with one ("Tonight, You're Gonna Fall In Love With Me"). Early Toni Wine songs were also waxed by The Sensations, The Coeds, The Ikettes, The Lornettes, The Cookies' Darlene McCrea, Piccola Pupa, The Crystals, The Chiffons and Dusty Springfield. However, royalties didn't start rolling in until 1966 when she teamed with a dynamic young lyricist named Carole Bayer-Sager (known simply as Carole Bayer at the time). Wine and Bayer-Sager beat the odds against success for a female writing team by penning the million-seller "A Groovy Kind Of Love." The UK's Mindbenders rode their instant hippie anthem into the Top Five on both sides of the Atlantic. Later, the group performed another Wine/Bayer-Sager tune called "Off And Running" on the soundtrack of the 1967 Sidney Poitier film To Sir, With Love. Jody Miller, Lesley Gore, Bobby Vee, Jackie DeShannon and The Rock Flowers were some of the other acts that benefitted from the ladies' largesse. Belatedly, so did Phil Collins, whose reverent remake of "Groovy Kind Of Love" shot to #1 on the international charts a full twenty years after The Mindbenders had cut their original version. Every song Toni and Carole wrote together was well-crafted, and the quality of their output got better all the time. Still, Toni didn't truly hit her creative stride until she left Screen Gems Music and signed with Herb Bernstein's Jill Bern publishing company in 1969. That's when she found her musical soulmate, the late Irwin Levine.

Creatively speaking, Wine and Levine were to the late '60s what Goffin and King, Mann and Weil and Barry and Greenwich had been to the earlier part of the decade. They didn't score as many hits, but they carved out a legacy that was equally rich. "Candida" is their masterpiece, a fabulous recreation of the pre-British Invasion Habanera Rock sound. Buoyed by its percolating cha-cha rhythm, Tony Orlando and Dawn were catapulted to stardom. Orlando, who knew Toni from the days when they both sang demos for Screen Gems Music, pounced on another of her collaborations with Irwin Levine called "What Are You Doing Sunday?" As a single, this effervescent tune scored another major hit for his new group. Recognizing real talent when he saw it, producer Phil Spector commissioned Wine and Levine to write music for his acts. They gave him the raw material he needed to craft a pair of majestic productions: Sonny Charles and The Checkmates' ethnic pride anthem "Black Pearl" and "You Came! You Saw! You Conquered!", a rousing comeback single for The Ronettes. Wine/Levine songs also enhanced the catalogs of Steve Alaimo, Billy Joe Royal, Brenda Lee, Petula Clark, Carla Thomas, Candi Staton, Ronnie Milsap, The Drifters, The Chiffons, The Brooklyn Bridge, The Rock Flowers, The Magnificent Men and numerous other artists during the early 1970s. Who knows what heights the red-hot team might have achieved had they not broken up prematurely? Toni got married and moved from New York City to Memphis, and Irwin decided to concentrate on his increasingly successful on-again, off-again partnership with composer Larry Russell Brown. Subsequently, Toni signed with Wes Farrell's Pocket Full Of Tunes publishing firm and wrote songs on her own. 

Occasionally, she would still write with other people like her (now former) husband Lincoln Wayne "Chips" Moman. She also collaborated with Les Reed's former lyricist Barry Mason, with Johnny Christopher, and separately with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. One of her most recent compositions is a collaboration with Artie Wayne called "I Lose It When I Hear White Christmas; it's one of the highlights of Tony Orlando and Dawn's Christmas Reunion CD from 2005.

Toni Wine wrote some of the most sophisticated material ever to come from the pen of a Brill Building scribe. She loved to explore the complex dynamics of male/female relationships, as well as the various forms those relationships can take. With Irwin Levine in particular, she treated the topics of love and sex in an unabashedly matter-of-fact way. Other Brill alumni preferred to suggest sex in their songs, as Gerry Goffin and Carole King did in "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?", as George "Shadow" Morton did in "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)" or as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil did in "I Just Can't Help Believin'". Toni wasn't satisfied with suggestion. She wanted to make the sexuality explicit, and she did so. The protagonists in her songs slept together, and there was no doubt about it. She not only acknowledged the importance of sex in a relationship ("I Wanna See Morning With Him"), she celebrated it ("Baby, Let's Be Lovers") and sometimes even demanded it ("Let's Make Love Tonight")! She served up extramarital sex ("Your Husband, My Wife"), sex for money ("Holly, Go Softly"), abusive sex ("And Then He Says He Loves Me") and even sex that was a little on the kinky side ("Love Me Like You're Gonna Lose Me"). Toni Wine wrote about sex from every angle, as only a Love Goddess could.

Her songs could be incredibly provocative, but she wasn't interested in pigeonholing herself. She never aspired to be the Jackie Collins of Brill Building Pop. Toni was (and is) such a strong and versatile writer, she never had to rely on sensationalism to create interesting love songs. She could craft exhilarating odes to romance like "Candida," broken-hearted ballads like "Nobody's Home To Go Home To", celebrations of newfound love like "Sugar Is Sweeter" or lovely musical Valentine cards like "You're My First Love" just as easily as she could whip up sin-soaked cheatin' songs like "Mr. and Mrs. Untrue" or a shocking tale of bigamy like "Sisters In Sorrow." She could write all these kinds of songs equally well, and unlike many of today's songwriters who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, she could sing them, too. Toni Wine lay her satin-sheathed baby Billie Holliday voice in the grooves of over a dozen solo singles waxed between 1963 and 1985, not to mention a movie soundtrack or two (the 1983 film All The Right Moves was one) and a rare album of duets with her friend Tony Orlando.

For her first solo recording, which hit Billboard's Top Forty Christmas charts in December of 1963, Toni wrote and sang "My Boyfriend's Coming Home For Christmas", a dewy-eyed tribute to lovers separated by military duty. Paired with actor/singer Steve Alaimo in a one-off duo called The Little People, she wrapped her fetching alto around Smokey Robinson's classic ballad of ambivalent love, "You've Really Got A Hold On Me." She had her winning way with Barry, Greenwich and Spector's ultimate declaration of love, "River-Deep, Mountain-High." She sang about brotherly love on "Take A Little Time Out For Love", selfish love on "My Point Of View," hopeful love on "Maybe My Baby Will", distant love on "Long-Distance Kissin'", anguished love on "He's Not You" and teenage love on "A Boy Like You", her finest Girl Group Sound single. Seldom did she sing about any subject except love, and seldom was the subject sung about better. Her colleagues certainly thought so. Toni's voice became such a coveted commodity in music business circles that artists began to compete fiercely for her duet and backing vocal services. Steely Dan, Gene Pitney, Neil Sedaka, Petula Clark, Brenda Lee, Evie Sands, Bob Crewe, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Billy Joe Royal, Bernadette Peters, Connie Francis and Robin McNamara are a few who've been lucky enough to win them; McNamara still marvels at Toni's fabulous duet vocal work on his 1971 Steed single "Mary, Janey And Me." ("What an incredible voice she has!," he raves.) The Archies were surely luckiest of all when she agreed to join them as the singing voice of Veronica Lodge. That's Toni mouthing the immortal lines I'm gonna make your life so sweet! near the climax of "Sugar, Sugar." It's her biggest claim to Rock 'n' Roll fame, but definitely not her only one.

Ron Dante is as much a fan of Toni's songwriting talent as he is of her vocal skills. He believes her musical compositions have longevity, and he should know. In 1972, he eagerly snatched up "That's What Life Is All About", one of her finest tunes, and cut it as a single. Thirty years later, it still sounds great and is arguably the best release of his entire singing career. "Her songs will be around forever," he promises. We mortals have been blessed with numerous Rock 'n' Roll classics written by the Goddess of Love. Here's an album's worth of them, each one nothing less than a revelation to the human ear.

"A Groovy Kind Of Love"
Recorded by The Mindbenders
Written by Carole Bayer-Sager and Toni Wine
Toni Wine's most lucrative copyright exists in versions by Patti LaBelle, Petula Clark, Gene Pitney and many other artists in addition to the chart-topping rendition by Phil Collins. Toni cut it a few times herself, and the magnificently soulful reading of "Groovy Kind Of Love" she tracked for Atco Records in 1970 puts The Mindbenders' original waxing to shame. She practically channels Aretha Franklin on that hard-to-find single.

"Candida"
Recorded by Tony Orlando and Dawn
Written by Irwin Levine and Toni Wine
What the Brill Building Sound is all about: A hook-laden melody with a killer chorus, an uplifting lyric, a romantic premise, a girl's name in the title for good measure. What a hit record is all about: A strong lead vocal tinged with the Blues, colorful background voices (Toni's is one of them), a solid Latin rhythm foundation, a string section going airborne on the instrumental break. Tony Orlando and Dawn couldn't have found a better vehicle for their chart debut, and they couldn't have found a song more likely to become a Rock 'n' Roll standard. "Candida" would've been a hit if Jay and The Americans has cut it in 1964, or if The Drifters had cut it in 1959. "Candida" could be a hit today for a singer like Clay Aiken. With halfway decent production values, any competent singer could have had a hit with "Candida" anytime during the last 50 years. It's Toni Wine's entry in the Great American Songbook.

"You're My First Love"
Recorded by The Coeds
Written by Artie Kornfeld and Toni Wine
This is one of the earliest Toni Wine songs to be recorded, but it's one of her all-time best: A folk-flavored love ballad with the kind of lazy, evening-on-the-back-porch-swing quality you find in Hoagy Carmichael's work. Most professional songwriters want at least one number in their catalog that sounds like it hails from the Golden Age of American popular song, the kind of tune that compares favorably to the work of masters like Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. "You're My First Love" is that kind of tune. Hearing it will take you on a trip back in time.

"Gettin' Together"
Recorded by The Rock Flowers
Written by Ellie Greenwich and Toni Wine
No, this isn't the theme song from Bobby Sherman's short-lived 1971 TV sitcom, but it's the same kind of number. In producer Wes Farrell's experienced hands, it turned into a delightful bouncing ball of a record. The whole thing is based on a clever vocal riff which Toni and Ellie must've had loads of fun singing as they composed the tune. Listen to "Gettin' Together" once, and all you'll remember about it is the chorus, but that chorus is made of maximum-strength Superglue! It will stick in your memory for days on end. If Bob Dylan's music is your style, you probably won't dig this record, but if you were raised on Pop hooks, it's gonna be right up your alley.

"Sisters In Sorrow"
Recorded by Brenda Lee
Written by Irwin Levine and Toni Wine
How often do you encounter subject matter as raw as this in a Pop song? "Sisters In Sorrow" is a blistering Country Rock lament that describes the aftermath of a failed polygamous marriage. A man has convinced two women to marry him at the same time, but now he's abandoned them both. Brenda and Toni (on righteous backing vocals) commiserate soulfully over the shame of sharing his linen and sharing his name. This barely-released song was produced by Chips Moman during sessions for Memphis Portrait, Brenda Lee's finest Rock 'n' Roll album for Decca Records.

"If We Both Hold On"
Recorded by Koffie
Written by Jeff Barry and Toni Wine
Adult-contemporary songs just don't get any more adult than this! A couple uses sex to try and save a dying relationship, but it's much too late, and the growing hopelessness of the situation is mirrored in the growing intensity of the vocals. With its Mississippi Bayou guitar licks, Sunday morning piano chords, somber waltz rhythm, symphonic strings and full-throated Blues singing, this record crosses a lot of genres. Jeff Barry could've done a far better job of producing it, but Ted Cooper's production work is just effective enough, and powerhouse vocals carry the powerhouse lyric all the way home.
"Love Me Like You're Gonna Lose Me"
Recorded by The Chiffons
Written by Irwin Levine and Toni Wine
Many Chiffons fans believe this single to be the group's greatest, but radio programmers almost certainly got cold feet about adding it to their playlists. "Love Me Like You're Gonna Lose Me" is about foreplay; more specifically, it's about a couple who like to fight before making love. Now, there are plenty of couples who do that kind of thing, and it's legitimate fodder for song lyrics . . . but was America ready to hear this kind of love sung about on the radio in 1969? And would they have accepted it from a Girl Group with a sweet, virginal image like The Chiffons? This number was probably better suited to a "bad" Girl Group like The Ronettes (who reportedly did cut a version of it). It's a shame, though, because The Chiffons sing this classically-influenced ballad so tenderly, it has almost no shock value at all. Wine and Levine, who produced the recording session, decided to have group members Judy Craig Mann and Sylvia Peterson share the lead vocal. This resulted in a very compelling performance, but it may have made the track even more controversial. As if sado-masochism wasn't kinky enough, what about two women singing about sado-masochism to each other? Yipe!

"(He's Gonna Be) Fine, Fine Fine"
Recorded by The Ikettes
Written by Tommy Boyce, Steve Venet and Toni Wine
This danceable novelty number with an outdated Big Band sound shouldn't work at all, but it works remarkably well . . . in fact, it worked well enough to net Toni and her co-writers a sizable regional hit (#125 on Billboard's Bubbling Under chart). There's definitely a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" quality to this lively meditation on teenage courtship; you'd almost think the lyric is trying to imply something naughty. But of course, if the Goddess of Love had wanted to convey something provocative, She would have done so without being coy about it. Maybe it's the leering presence of Ike Turner in the recording studio that makes our minds wander into unseemly territory! The Ikettes (this edition of the torrid trio included Venetta Fields, Robbie Montgomery and Jessie Smith) mug and guffaw their way through "Fine, Fine, Fine" like a cornball comedy act, but their over-the-top performance is half the fun of listening to the record.

"I'm Into Lookin' For Someone To Love Me"
Recorded by Bobby Vee
Written by Carole Bayer-Sager and Toni Wine
Excellent late '60s Pop/Rock from Bobby Vee, and one of the teen idol's last chart singles for Liberty Records. Toni lets her Brill Building roots show by sliding a rhumba rhythm underneath the jangling keyboards, drums and rhythm guitars that otherwise scream "Merseybeat." This song would've been perfect for The Mindbenders, and it may have been intended for them.

"Heaven Help The Nonbeliever"
Recorded by The Rock Flowers
Written by Carole Bayer-Sager and Toni Wine
This is unquestionably the finest of the Wine/Bayer-Sager compositions: A prayerful piano ballad which likens the love of a woman for a man to the love of God for humanity. The redemptive power of love is what the song is really talking about. Braced by Ardie Tillman's anguished vocal counterpoint, Debby Clinger's little-girl-lost soprano underscores the song's profound message with its very fragility. I'll sing my song that he's so afraid to hear, she trills. I'll sing it loud and drown out all his fears. Years later, Carole Bayer-Sager put the lines she wrote for "Heaven Help The Nonbeliever" to practical use. While dating Burt Bacharach, she learned that he had "writer's block" and was no longer composing new material. By "singing her song," she was indeed able to "drown out all his fears" and coax him into writing music again. Bacharach and Bayer-Sager soon married and embarked on a highly successful ten-year songwriting collaboration.

"You Came! You Saw! You Conquered!"
Recorded by The Ronettes
Written by Irwin Levine, Phil Spector and Toni Wine
Toni Wine recalls collaborating on several Ronettes songs with Irwin Levine and Phil Spector. Two of them, "Baby, Let's Be Lovers" and "Love Me, La-Dee-Day" have surfaced overseas. To date, this is the only one to have been released in the United States. Since it failed to crack Billboard's Hot 100, you might argue that it wasn't the most commercial choice, but does that mean it's an inferior record? Au contraire! Arranged by the capable Perry Botkin, Jr, "You Came! You Saw! You Conquered!" fancydances out of your audio speakers with a jaunty, high-stepping rhythm. It's got a Las Vegas-styled razzle dazzle that suits both Phil and Ronnie Spector's personalities; just listen to the pizzazzy way Ronnie sings the word baby! On this number, she's the life and soul of the party. In fact, "Conquered" is such a festive song, Phil may have released it in celebration of their recent marriage. Legend has it that whenever Phil Spector mixed a Ronettes single, he liked to listen back to the voice track and imagine that Ronnie was singing directly to him. Accordingly, titles were very important in deciding which songs he wanted to record with her. No other title could ever have given Phil more of an ego boost than this one!

"Get Him!"
Recorded by Little Eva
Written by Toni Wine
The composer credits for this unreleased Little Eva track are lost. To date, Toni Wine hasn't heard the record, and its title is too generic for her to recall having written it. Even so, this bouncy Latin rocker couldn't possibly have been written by anybody else! Little Eva was an artist under contract to Screen Gems/Columbia, the company Toni worked for. The lyric's male/female courtship is portrayed as a cat-and-mouse game, and that's a Toni Wine trademark. What's more, the melody resembles that of a song called "A Girl Is Not A Girl" that Toni co-wrote with Steve Venet around the same time this number was recorded (1964). We're more than willing to go out on a limb in this case, because "Get Him" has Aphrodite's delicate fingerprints all over it! What a pity it never got released as a single, because it may have been just what Little Eva needed to jump-start her stalled chart fortunes.

Who can say where the Rock 'n' Roll Love Goddess might turn up next? You might find Her serenading passengers on a Caribbean cruise. You might catch Her on stage in Las Vegas with Tony Orlando or Ron Dante. If you're lucky, you might see Her headlining Her own show at your friendly neighborhood House of Blues. You might even spot Her in New York City spending time with Allan Rinde, a handsome mortal of whom She's grown quite fond. Alas! The Love Goddess is elusive. You may never catch sight of her, but don't fret: You can still bask in Her glory! If you fancy those circular capsules of amusement called vinyl records (and if you frequent this blogspace, you doubtless do), merely search out those that have Toni Wine's name emblazoned on the labels. However, be forewarned: Once you've listened to these musical jewels, you will fall completely under Aphrodite's spell! Her music is powerfully addictive; you'll need a Music Lovers Anonymous group to help you break the habit. Toni's delicious brand of Wine will intoxicate you like nothing you've ever known before.

"Toni Wine (is) a 'triple threat' . . . musician, writer, singer, and superbly talented in all areas. I loved writing and singing with her and sharing in her passion and soul, which she felt and displayed in everything she did (including decorating her apartment and cooking . . . truly)!!! I've been blessed, not only in working with Toni but in having a very long friendship with her, and she hasn't changed one bit.
Thank God!!! I LOVE HER!"
Ellie Greenwich
singer/songwriter and star of the hit musical
Leader Of The Pack

Special thanks to Jeff Barry, Ron Dante, Robin McNamara, Laura Pinto, Ellie Greenwich and Bob Weiner.

03 May 2006

Connie Francis, Part Two

Exciting Connie Francis

Connie Francis Rocks The Swing Shift
Jive, Connie, Jive!
by Donny Jacobs
Jazz bubbled up out of the Mississippi Delta at the turn of the 20th century, a syncopated blend of the Blues, Ragtime, Negro Spiritual vocalizing and the sound of marching brass bands. It had much in common with Country music in its early years; heavily improvised, it seldom relied on written arrangements. In fact, many early Jazz performers didn't read music. Pioneering New Orleans musicians like Buddy Bolden, Sidney Bechet, King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton attended the birth of this lively new sound, and touring bands led by Jelly Roll, Freddie Keppard, WC Handy and Fletcher Henderson spread it North and West. By then, it was known as Dixieland.

The first successful Jazz recording appeared in 1917: “Livery Stable Blues” by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band. “The Charleston“, a bouncy number composed by Jazz pianist James P. Johnson, inspired a dance step that was performed to Dixieland accompaniment. It became the biggest craze of the 1920s. The dance and the music took root in Los Angeles, Chicago, Kansas City, New York City; Jazz bands were installed in nightclubs, and live radio broadcasts from those clubs spread the popularity of Dixieland all over America. European audiences also developed a taste for it after imported records and touring Jazz bands reached their shores.

From the late ‘20s to the early 1930s, Jazz bands became progressively larger, partly as a result of needing to project a fuller sound over radio. Partly for the same reason, the brass element of the music become more prominent. The improvisational character of Jazz lessened with each additional horn player; the need to accommodate more instruments made written arrangements necessary. What improvisation remained was limited to instrumental solos, bringing to prominence star soloists like Louis Armstrong and Bix Biederbecke. Paul Whiteman, billed as the “King Of Jazz,” led the first commercially successful big band, and the bold, brassy sound produced by his and similar ensembles soon had a new name: Swing!

America’s Swing craze officially arrived in July 1935 when the music of Benny Goodman’s dance band caused a sensation during a coast-to-coast tour. Goodman was soon crowned “King Of Swing,” and Swing bands fronted by Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford and The Dorsey Brothers became wildly popular. Featured band vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Doris Day and Frank Sinatra also drew avid followings(so avid, in fact, that the latter two singers were able to parlay their bandstand success into Hollywood movie stardom).

By this time, the Charleston craze was history, and so was the Dixieland sound it popularized, but Big Band Jazz put America in the mood to dance again. People packed into ballrooms like Hollywood’s Palomar, Chicago‘s Aragon, Detroit’s Arcadia and New York City‘s Roseland. Swing music drove dancers crazy! At its most danceable, it was characterized by an insistent four-to-the-bar (sometimes eight-to-the-bar) beat. This made it ideal for Lindy Hopping, the Depression-era step named for celebrity aviator Charles Lindberg.

The best aspect of Swing was that you could dance to it one minute and smooch to it the next! That‘s because two varieties emerged. “Hot” Swing was loud and fast, mostly original Jazz compositions played with as much improvisation as possible. “Sweet” Swing was slow and sentimental, mostly show tunes and popular compositions played with heavy orchestration. (Latin dance music was part of the mix, too, but it didn’t really begin to merge with Jazz until after the Swing era was over.) After the breakout of World War II, the American public increasingly favored Sweet Swing bands like that of Glen Miller. This change in taste anticipated the orchestra Pop sounds of the 1950s.

Also anticipating the future was Frank Sinatra’s phenomenal solo career, launched in 1942 after a high-profile stint with Tommy Dorsey’s band. After the War, a plethora of former band vocalists followed him onto the national Hit Parade, eclipsing the big bands which had first made them famous. Banished from most dance venues by the early ‘50s, Jazz musicians embraced an unstructured, almost totally improvisational music called Bebop. They, along with a growing chorus of music critics, began to question the authenticity of Swing, the Sweet variety in particular. Most turned their backs on it, but Swing didn’t die. It and many of its best musicians took refuge in recording studios.

The Big Band sound continued to be heard on Pop vocal records, as well as on movie and television soundtracks well into the 1970s. Contrary to what's generally accepted as fact, the advent of Rock’n'Roll didn't push Jazz completely out of the public sphere. Neither did Disco (which had much in common with Swing) or the rise of Hip-Hop and Techno music. The periodic success of artists like Harry Connick, Jr, Michael Bublé and Norah Jones reminds us that Jazz is still alive and kickin’ out there somewhere on the periphery.

Connie Francis was a Jazz baby. Her mother went into labor with her while dancing to a Jazz band, she grew up hearing and loving Big Band sounds on the radio, and by her early teens, she was belting jazzy fare like “Wheel Of Fortune” and “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue” as a regular on New York City’s “Startime Kids” TV show. Connie was never one to be intimidated by a brassy arrangement. She wasn't a “modern Jazz” vocalist like Betty Carter or Mel Tormé, though. No Bebop scat singing for her! She considered lyrics far too important to play with. Connie was a swinger(musically speaking), and she took her cues from great Swing vocalists like Rosemary Clooney, Helen Forrest and Kay Starr. However, her all-time idol was a singing star from the Dixieland era: Al Jolson, the original “Jazz Singer.” Echoes of his vocal style, with its dramatic flair and old-fashioned nasality can clearly be heard on many of her Jazz waxings.

Right from the start of her recording career, La Franconero was jazzin‘ things up: Her very first session in 1955 yielded two tasty Swing items, “Didn’t I Love You Enough?“ and “Goody Goodbye.“ Both shipped as singles, albeit as flipsides. While you won’t find a multitude of Jazz sides among her M-G-M 45s, they do exist, and her M-G-M albums are a real treasure trove of them. You simply have to know where to look.


For example, 1958’s Who’s Sorry Now? is regarded as an early Rock’n’Roll album, and basically, it is. However, with musicians like guitarist Tony Mottola and ex-big band arranger Joe Lipman featured, it carries a very strong Jazz sensibility. Three of the album’s selections are straight-up Jazz. “I’m Beginning to See The Light” is a marvelous rendition of the old Duke Ellington number; Connie’s vocal is wickedly impertinent. While she jives downstage, maestro Lipman’s orchestra sneaks up behind her, swingin’ harder than San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds with a bad attitude. Immediately, she switches from Hot to Sweet Swing with a sublime version of Bing Crosby’s 1939 hit “My Melancholy Baby.” Concetta’s sexy voice stretches out and drapes itself lazily over the gorgeous arrangement as if it were a comfy deck chair. A stereo take of this exquisite performance exists, the only surviving evidence of producer Morty Craft’s attempt to cut the first Connie Francis album on multiple tracks. “How Deep Is The Ocean?” tries for more of a Latin Jazz feel. It’s a little too fast for dancing, but Connie’s first recording of an Irving Berlin tune is certainly an aural treat. The music thrashes and churns around her like waves on a storm-tossed sea.

Her first true Jazz album was released the following year. The Exciting Connie Francis devoted one side to Hot Swing and the other to Sweet. The “Hot” side is the most memorable of the two. Highlights include an effective big band treatment of Ray Charles’ R & B smash “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” and a robust cover of “Rockabye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody,” one of Al Jolson’s signature tunes. Using a Sophie Tucker vibrato straight out of vaudeville days, Connie gives this Dixieland classic everything she’s got. This is one of her best-loved Jazz performances; M-G-M executives must have liked it, as they saw fit to showcase it on an early stereo single.

The best selection from the album‘s “Sweet” side is a lovely reading of Frank Sinatra’s “Time After Time.” Sounding impossibly young yet confident beyond her years, La Franconero starts off cool and ends up hot, driving this number home with a powerful Judy Garland-style finale. Her performances on the other ballads are solid enough, yet the songs themselves leave you feeling underwhelmed. All were arranged by Ray Ellis, and while Ellis had no peer when it came to crafting Rock ballads, his work in the Adult-Contemporary genre at times suffered from a monotonous quality. Unfortunately, that’s the case here. The Exciting Connie Francis should’ve generated a lot more excitement than it does. It was early in Connie’s career, though, so there’d be plenty more opportunities to show off her Jazz chops.

In late January of 1960, producers Ray Ellis and Jesse Kaye met Connie for a session at Hollywood’s famed Radio Recorders Studio. The best-known tune to emerge from it was the habanera rocker “Valentino,” which scored as a British hit single. At that same session, Connie dusted off the 1941 Tommy Dorsey favorite “Yes, Indeed” and rechristened it “Connie’s Swingin’ Medley.” This mad Hot swinger, composed by Sy Oliver and originally sung by him in a duet with Jo Stafford, incorporates snatches of Johnny Mercer’s wartime anthem “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive,” the Country oldie “Lonesome Road” and the Gospel standard “Amen.” Connie needed no duet partner; she lights a fire under this specialty number all by herself!

She waxed another great version of her “Swingin’ Medley” in New York City a few months later, and previewed the song with the Mitchell Ayres orchestra on an Armed Forces Radio broadcast. However, plans to release the song (possibly on an EP disc) were shelved, and it would not see the light of day for many years. Her fling with this Jazz classic was heartbreakingly brief, but her musical liaison with the man she hired to arrange it, Richard Wess, would go on a little longer and yield delicious fruit.

Connie Francis - Songs to a Swingin' Band

That October, Connie assembled an A & R team consisting of Richard Wess, Ray Ellis and Arnold Maxin to record what would be her finest Jazz album. Songs To A Swinging Band, cut at New York's Regent Sound Studios, more than fulfilled the promise The Exciting Connie Francis had failed to keep. Wess, who swung the orchestra on Bobby Darin’s immortal recording of “Beyond The Sea,” was the best arranger Connie could possibly have chosen for this project. His combustible charts make standards like “Angel Eyes,” “Taboo” and “You’re Nobody ‘Till Somebody Loves You” crackle with energy. One minute, he’s got the music blazing out of control like a gasoline fire, and the next, he’s got it simmering on a slow burn.

Connie is ready for anything and everything he throws her way; she responds to his mood and tempo changes with a series of customized vocal readings. On a brassy number like “Love Is Where You Find It“, she attacks with the ferocity of a tigress; on a whimsical piece like “Gone With The Wind,” she sounds wide-eyed and winsome; on a piano ballad like “I Got Lost In His Arms” she lays back and purrs like a contented tabby. The aforementioned “Angel Eyes” features her singing all the way behind the beat, playin’ it icy cool while the band swings at a breakneck pace. The technique is amazingly effective, and she reprises it on a reading of Joni James’ 1953 Top Tenner “My Love, My Love.”

Concetta saves her fiercest swingin’ for “Ol’ Man Mose,” a long-forgotten Louis Armstrong oldie that gave bandleader Eddy Duchin one of his biggest hits in 1938. Despite the morbid lyrics, she makes it an expression of pure joy; it would’ve made a sizzler of an M-G-M single. Connie certainly recognized what a hot property this song was, and she got plenty of mileage out of it on stage over the next few months. Her superb version of Al Jolson’s “Swanee” closes the album; it’s a roadrunner of a track that moves so unbelievably fast, La Franconero expresses her disbelief to Richard Wess right on the master tape: “You’ve gotta be kidding, Dick!” she gasps. Dick wasn’t kidding, but Connie’s fans must have been when they failed to send this phenomenal LP up the Billboard album charts. Songs To A Swinging Band is a definitive Swing record, authentic enough to have sent 1930s ballroom dancers into a Lindy-Hopping frenzy.

Connie at The Copa

Connie At The Copa, recorded live at the celebrated nightspot during the Rock'n'Roll Queen’s December 1960 engagement there, is also a Swing record. With Joe Sherman arranging, and Connie’s touring music director Joe Mele leading the Copacabana house band, every song gets a jazzy treatment. That includes Pop/Rock hits like “Many Tears Ago“ and even international items like “Mama”, “Hava Nagilah” and “Shein Vi De Levone!” Connie’s concert version of “Ol’ Man Mose” kicks the set off strong, then segues into a rendition of the 1927 Paul Whiteman smash “It All Depends On You” that pulsates with emotion. Much as she’d done earlier with “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” Concetta reworks Jesse Stone‘s R & B song “Smack Dab! In The Middle” as a Jazz number, and you’d best believe the woman swings it hard! She’s clearly having a ball as she improvises comic lyrics for the highbrow audience, joking in song about The Metropolitan Opera and its famous impresario, Sir Rudolph Bing.

La Franconero all but channels Al Jolson during her Copa show, and toward the end, she turns it into a full-blown tribute to him. Most of Side Two is taken up by an extended Jolson medley, and the redoubtable Miss Francis wows the crowd with a delectable batch of golden Jolie oldies: “You Made Me Love You,” the aforementioned “Rockabye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody“ and “Swanee”, “My Mammy” and “Toot-Toot-Tootsie, Goodbye.” Her high-spirited delivery of “When The Saints Go Marching In” and “Bill Bailey” at the show’s finale surely convinced any lingering skeptics that her affection for vintage material was genuine. Sure, she may have looked like a Rock’n’Roll singer, but underneath that “American Bandstand” exterior beat the heart of a Red Hot Mama from the Old School! On the night of this live recording and successive nights, she made the Dixieland and Swing eras spring back to glorious life. Her superlative efforts not only made her Copa engagement an unqualified success, it also made Connie At The Copa a best-selling Pop album; in both cases, her triumph was richly-deserved.

There was a long stretch between this 1961 LP and Connie’s next long-playing Jazz release. She spent the early ’60s cutting mostly Country, Rock, Adult-Contemporary Pop and Rhythm and Blues masters, not to mention numerous International sides. Finally in 1964, as she prepared to film her third movie, she cut some new Jazz recordings with producer Danny Davis. All of her movie soundtracks swing to some degree, but none more so than Looking For Love. In this film, Concetta plays Libby Caruso, an aspiring Pop singer(quite a stretch for her).

There are several performance sequences that allow her and her backing musicians (no less than the mighty M-G-M Studio Orchestra) to immerse themselves in syncopated arrangements. They came courtesy of Klaus Ogermann(himself a respected Jazz artist), M-G-M orchestrator Skip Martin, and Connie’s new music director on tour, Joe Mazzu. A handful of Rock‘n Roll sides appear on the soundtrack LP, but they’re overshadowed by the Hot Swing workouts: The wonderful standards “Be My Love” and “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me” and the fabulous originals “This Is My Happiest Moment,” “When The Clock Strikes Midnight” and “Looking For Love.” Connie’s shameless vamping at the climax of the latter tune (big boy, I’m just lookin’ for . . .) is one of the best things she ever put on wax. Once filming was completed, she flew down to Nashville and waxed an ill-conceived march-time version of the movie theme; released on 45, it stubbornly refused to crack Billboard’s Top Forty list. M-G-M Records committed a major gaffe by not releasing the great Jazz version instead.

New Kind Of Connie

A New Kind Of Connie followed Looking For Love onto Billboard’s album charts in the fall of 1964. Where the former album enriched Connie’s Hot Swing catalog, the latter did the same for her Sweet sides. The concept of Connie Francis singing an album of standards was hardly new, but the way she sang them definitely was. After six years of recording and touring internationally, she approaches this material with a maturity and worldliness we’ve never heard before. You can really detect the change in how she phrases melancholy ballads like “Where Did Ev’ryone Go?”, “Where Can I Go Without You?” and “I Found Myself A Guy,” a song written especially for her by noted Tin Pan Alley composer Jimmy McHugh.

Marty Paich's arrangements are mostly Sweet, but the subject matter often isn’t: The bitter putdown of romantic love Concetta conveys in her rendition of “Take It From Me” chills the blood, and on Fanny Brice’s signature song “My Man,” she sings of being beaten up by her lover with excruciating honesty. Fortunately, not all the album’s selections are so fatalistic. “Will You Still Be Mine?” “My Kind Of Guy,” “The Sweetest Sounds” and “Ma! He’s Makin’ Eyes At Me!” present La Franconero senza dolore and intent on creating a lightly swinging mood. Happy or sad, she makes every single number on this album hers for the keeping. A New Kind Of Connie is the favorite LP of many a Connie Francis fan, and for years to come, she would feature selections from it in her Las Vegas lounge act.

1966’s Connie Francis Sings Movie Greats Of The ’60s wouldn’t appear to be a Jazz album at first glance, but there can be no doubt about it once you’ve heard the swingin’ versions of movie classics like “Strangers In The Night,” “Call Me Irresponsible,” “Wives And Lovers,” “The Second Time Around,” “The Good Life” and “You’re Gonna Hear From Me” contained within its grooves. The name Benny Golson in the arranger credits might tip you off ahead of time, but ironically, most of the Swing charts on this LP don’t come from his pen. The late Larry Wilcox (an associate of Burt Bacharach) does the honors the majority of the time, working under the close supervision of Connie and her new A & R man Tom Wilson.

She’d record the majority of her Movie Greats album tracks in Spanish the following year and reissue it under the title Grandes Exitos de los Años 60. It was a resounding success in Spanish-speaking terrories all over the world. “Forget Domani,” a recent hit single, rounds out both versions of the LP; once again, we find Al Jolson haunting Connie's vocal track. This lively theme from a 1965 M-G-M comedy called The Yellow Rolls Royce is one of her few Hot Swing recordings with a pronounced Italian flavor. It should come as no surprise, then, that an Italian-American bandleader, Don Costa, did the arrangement! Before the 1960s are out, Costa will work with her again in a Jazz context.

M-G-M Records’ second live Connie Francis album was captured in a Las Vegas showroom; the venue was the world-famous Sahara Hotel, with backing by the Lou Basil Orchestra. Listening to Connie Francis Live At The Sahara will remind you that the whole is not always the sum of its parts. A compilation of excerpted performances that are poorly sequenced, this LP doesn’t swing anywhere near as hard as its predecessor. It does have its moments, though. The old Jolson spirit rears its head in Connie’s belting delivery of “Once In A Lifetime“ and “One Of Those Songs.” She strips “Who’s Sorry Now?” of all Rock ballad trappings and swings it like it would’ve been swung in the 1940s. Her rousing treatment of Ritchie Valens’s “La Bamba” is appealing enough to transform you into a Latin Jazz fan all by itself. Other standouts include her live medley of “My Heart Reminds Me”/“Yesterday” and her beautiful rendition of the Tony Bennett standard “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”

However, an awkward Country and Western medley falls on its face, and her Rock-tinged Gospel finale isn’t even strong enough to close an album side, much less a Las Vegas revue. Despite the zany patter she sprinkles between songs, the pace often drags, and the sound mix is surprisingly dull and flat. Worst of all, Connie’s voice occasionally sounds strained; this is probably due to the reported difficulty she had singing in air-conditioned rooms around this time. By the mid-sixties, M-G-M's Rock'n'Roll Queen was a fixture in Vegas, so it made perfect sense for the label to record one of her shows. Live At The Sahara, however, was not the album that should have resulted.

Connie and Clyde

Her last Jazz albums for M-G-M were issued back-to-back in 1968: Connie And Clyde: Hit Songs Of The ‘30s and Connie Francis Sings Bacharach And David. Music historians consider the 1930s a Golden Age of American popular song, and given Connie’s affinity for vintage music, recording an album of Depression-era songs was a natural for her. She called up old friend Don Costa to arrange and co-produce the sessions, and she later declared the record they crafted together her all-time favorite. No doubt, this is what led some of her fans to claim that Connie And Clyde is her best Jazz collection. Not! Nothing comes close to the Swinging Band LP on that score. Besides, Connie And Clyde features some of the least authentic Jazz Connie ever recorded.

Costa’s flashy charts are more suited to a Broadway pit orchestra than a Swing band. They weigh down songs like “Ace In The Hole,” “Just A Gigolo” and “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone”, which cry out for less ostentatious settings. That said, if you regard it simply as a collection of novelty-flavored 1930s songs, this is a great album. Selections like “Button Up Your Overcoat,” “You Oughta Be In Pictures” and a cheeky “Gold Digger’s Medley” fully capture the madcap spirit of entertainment during the last years of Prohibition. “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime,” isn’t Jazz, but it’s essential Connie Francis, one of her most powerful performances on wax. Her honey-sweet Dixieland take on Fats Waller’s classic “Ain’t Misbehavin” is Jazz, and simply unforgettable. You’ll never hear this number sung (or swung) better. Using a very broad definition, you can say that Connie and Clyde is a Swing record. Expect a vigorous argument, though, if you say so in the presence of a Jazz purist!

Early in his career, Connie rejected a song submission from Burt Bacharach, fearing that his material was too sophisticated for her audience. When she finally got around to showcasing his work, she did so by cutting one of the very best Bacharach and David tributes of the '60s. If Connie And Clyde is essentially a Pop album with Jazz seasonings, Connie Francis Sings Bacharach and David is the exact opposite. For this project, Klaus Ogermann and Joe Mazzu backed Connie with a Jazz combo augmented by strings. The effect is low-key and intimate, never overblown.

Kicking off with a great “cool Jazz” intro, her “This Girl’s In Love With You/I Say A Little Prayer” medley is an excellent slice of combo Swing; La Franconero sings it in classic Jazz vocalist style, as if she were part of the horn section. She does the same with “Trains And Boats And Planes,“ where her muted voice resembles soft bossa nova guitar chords. Her performance of Bacharach and David’s immortal peace treatise “What The World Needs Now” is unlike anything she’s ever done before. Connie’s voice takes on an ethereal quality as it soars ever higher into the stratosphere . . . it’s absolutely breathtaking.

Speaking of breath control, she uses hers to skillfully navigate “Promises, Promises,” a tune long acknowledged as one of the most difficult Bacharach melodies to sing. Compared to Dionne Warwick’s hit single, her version sounds slightly hurried; however, her timing is perfect from beginning to end. With an intensely earnest reading, Connie lays claim to another selection from Bacharach and David’s hit Broadway musical: “Wanting Things.” Nearly forty years later, producers still cull this dazzling track for inclusion on Burt Bacharach songbook collections, and it’s not hard to understand why.

The economical backdrops crafted for these tracks and others like “Make It Easy On Yourself”, “The Look Of Love” and a sensational take of “Alfie” allow for full appreciation of Concetta’s impeccable phrasing. Clearly, this gifted woman learned the lessons taught by Sinatra, Stafford and her other musical forebears exceedingly well. Bacharach and David and its follow-up, Connie Francis Sings The Songs Of Les Reed, are the only composer collections La Franconero released on M-G-M Records. What a shame, because if any Pop singer had the qualifications to follow in Ella Fitzgerald’s footsteps as a prime interpreter of the American songbook, it was Connie Francis.

Anyone of a mind to ferret out Jazz tracks concealed in the grooves of Connie Francis’s non-Jazz album releases will find the undertaking quite fruitful. Careful examination of such long-playing discs as Connie Francis Sings All-Time International Hits, Connie Francis Sings More Italian Favorites, Happiness: Connie Francis On Broadway Today, Connie Francis Sings “For Mama“, Never On Sunday, Dance Party, Jealous Heart, Connie Francis Sings Folk Song Favorites, and the soundtracks of Follow The Boys and When The Boys Meet The Girls yields much buried treasure: “Mack The Knife.” “It‘s Not Unusual.” “Hallelujah, Baby!” “Guaglione.” “I Can‘t Reach Your Heart.” “And I Love Him.” “Everything I Have Is Yours.” “Stardust.” “Embraceable You.” “Does Ol‘ Broadway Ever Sleep?” “What Kind Of Fool Am I?” “Moonglow and Picnic Suite.” “Willkommen/Cabaret Medley.” “Every Night.“

Wait . . . is that last one really Jazz? It sort of sounds like Country music, too. And aren’t “And I Love Him” and “It’s Not Unusual” Rock‘n’Roll songs? Don’t be confused by Connie’s tendency to blend genres. She loved nothing better than to stir up a rich musical stew with myriad ingredients. Swing (Hot, Sweet or Latin-flavored) was always one of her favorite spices, and she used it in abundance.

Swingin’ Connie Francis performances are relatively rare in the 45 RPM format, but again, there are more than you might expect. Here’s a baker’s dozen: “I Never Had A Sweetheart,” a Sweet Swing track recorded, ironically enough, for the 1956 movie Rock, Rock, Rock; “Never Before,” a luxurious Sweet swinger hidden on the flipside of Connie’s 1958 smash “My Happiness”; “Plenty Good Lovin,” a Hot swinger often mistaken for a rocker that charted in both England and the United States; a delectable reading of Al Jolson’s “You Made Me Love You,“ recorded in England for an aborted album project but later issued on Connie’s Valentino EP; Johnny Mercer’s terrific “You Know You Don’t Want Me,” issued on the flipside of “Blue Winter”; “Be Anything,” one of Connie‘s finest Sweet Swing records and a 1964 Top Forty hit on Billboard‘s Hot 100; “Can I Rely On You”, arranged by Don Costa; “I’d Let You Break My Heart All Over Again,” arranged by Ernie Freeman; the scarce Armed Forces Radio single “A Nurse In The US Army Corps”; the Dixieland-flavored “Someone Took The Sweetness Out Of Sweetheart;” the uncannily retro flipside “When You Care A Lot For Someone”; "The Welfare Check," razor-sharp political satire that swings New Orleans-style; and the post-M-G-M recording “I Don’t Want To Walk Without You,” another of Connie’s deft fusions of Country music with Jazz.

In addition, several tracks from her Swing albums were issued on 45 as album teasers, among them “Swanee,” “This Is My Happiest Moment,” “Will You Still Be Mine?“, “Once In A Lifetime” and “Am I Blue?” That covers the domestic examples, but it’s worth noting that M-G-M Records issued an unknown number of her Jazz masters on overseas singles, too.

Some excellent, previously unreleased Jazz masters have appeared on Connie Francis CD compilations in recent years. Like "Plenty Good Lovin'", these cuts are also sometimes mislabeled as Rock performances.  Among them are “Love Eyes,” taken from the failed 1958 Broadway musical Whoop-Up; Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka‘s “Turn On The Sunshine,” featured in the movie Where The Boys Are but never issued on vinyl; a Latin Jazz version of Perry Como’s wartime smash “Temptation”; an alternate take of “Lullaby Of Broadway” from sessions for Connie Francis Sings Award-Winning Motion Picture Hits, and various takes of “Danke Schön” sung in different languages . . . not forgetting the aforementioned stereo take of “My Melancholy Baby“ and the twin 1960 waxings of “Connie‘s Swingin‘ Medley“.

There are so many high-quality Jazz and Jazz-influenced recordings in Connie’s catalog, an argument can be made that her releases belong on the Verve label. Verve Records is the Universal Music subsidiary that markets the catalogs of Jazz luminaries like Ella Fitzgerald, Wes Montgomery, Cal Tjader and Count Basie. Should Connie Francis be thought of as a Jazz singer, then? Yes . . . sometimes. On the continuum of American music that starts at Folk and stops at Rock‘n’Roll, she can be awfully hard to place! Perhaps the safest thing to do is take a cue from that Jesse Stone number she sang at the Copacabana in 1960. If you just put Concetta “smack dab! In the middle” and leave her free to gravitate toward whatever catches her fancy, pretty soon you won't care about which genre to place her in. To be sure, nothing could please her more!

Glamour Connie

Dedicated to Dr. Lester Earl Blue, Jr.

The Pop Culture Cantina recommends the following media:
Jazz, From Its Origins To the Present by Lewis Porter, Michael Ullman and Edward Hazell (Prentice-Hall Books, 1993); Swing by Scott Yanow (Miller-Freeman Books, 2000) and Jazz, Episode Five: Swing, Pure Pleasure, directed by Ken Burns
(PBS DVD Gold, 2000).