Contemporary singers like Diana Krall have the sleek cocktail-diva act down pat: one part slinky dress; one part slow, sexy songs; and one part deep, smoky voice. Krall, though, learned from a number of women, like Chris Connor, who wrote the book on torch singing back in the '50s. Recorded in 1961, A Portrait of Chris finds the singer accompanied by a lively band and strings as she interprets a dozen standards. Conner's calling card is her lovely, deep voice. It reaches down and delivers ballads like "Here's That Rainy Day" and "All Too Soon" in rich, full colors. Like Julie London, Conner's cool and calm approach always gives the impression that it's three a.m. and only a handful of people remain in the bar. She infuses "Sweet William" and "If I Should Lose You" with sad longing, leaving one to imagine her the loneliest person on the planet. She turns up the heat on "Day in, Day Out" and "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues," and delivers a spunky version of "Harlequin." James Ritz' liner notes serve as a good introduction to Connor and also place her in historical prospective. With the release of A Portrait of Chris, jazz fans can supplement their collections with the lovely singing of an original from the golden age of jazz divas.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
feat: Chris Conner