Helen Merrill


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Collaboration Review

by Scott Yanow

In 1956, a year before Miles Ahead, singer Helen Merrill hired the nearly forgotten arranger Gil Evans to write charts for a dozen songs on one of her record dates. In 1987, they had a reunion, and 11 of the 12 numbers (with "Summertime" taking the place of "You're Lucky to Me") were recorded again. Rather than just a re-creation album, this project found Evans writing fresh arrangements, utilizing three very different ten-pieces: one with a woodwind quintet, another with six horns, and a third that included five strings. This inspired outing, one of the most rewarding sets of Helen Merrill's later years, was also one of Evans' last great dates and one of his few post-1972 classics. 57 at the time, Merrill is in superb form on such numbers as "Where Flamingos Fly," "A New Town Is a Blue Town," "By Myself" and "Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home." A highly recommended CD.

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