Ever hear of such singers as Betty Mays, Bixie Crawford, Jewel Belle, Vanita Smythe, Debbie Andrews, Terry Timmons, Helen Fox or Helen Thompson? Very few music collectors have, yet they all have their bright moments on this CD. Drawn from the catalog of the United label, these truly obscure performances contain many highlights. The one well-known singer in the collection, Della Reese, is heard on her recording debut including two previously unreleased performances. Betty Mays' singing is particularly intriguing for she is heard on two songs and an alternate take, while joined by trombonists J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding; her scatting on the two versions of "Mays' Haze" is excellent. Bixie Crawford had a stint with Count Basie's band so the sidemen on her three numbers include several Basie-ites, most notably tenor-saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and trumpeter Joe Newman. Tenor-saxophonist Jimmy Coe is on Helen Fox's numbers and altoist Chris Woods is on the Jewel Belle selections. Otherwise the personnel is obscure but in every case the vocal performance is rewarding. This is a real sleeper release, one well-worth picking up by collectors of jazz vocalists and early-'50s music.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow