Helen Merrill

Helen Sings, Teddy Swings

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This lesser-known LP is an easy success. Although singer Helen Merrill usually performs with more modern musicians, she must have been thrilled to have veteran swing pianist leading her backup trio. Merrill takes a chance by performing ten veteran standards, most of which are associated with other singers, but she comes across quite well. Most of the songs are taken as medium- to slow-tempo ballads, with a happy "Pennies From Heaven" being the only moderate cooker. Wilson is joined by either bassist Larry Ridley and drummer Lenny McBrowne or bassist Kunimitsu Inaba and drummer Takeshi Inormata, and he is his typical flawless self, while Merrill rarely strays much from the melody and sometimes sounds surprisingly similar to Susannah McCorkle (who would not emerge for another decade). A rewarding album (its listed recording date is approximate), long overdue to be reissued on CD.