If not yet achieving the status of a legend, Teddi King is at least a cult figure. Ignored by some jazz vocal authorities -- she doesn't rate a single word in Will Friedwald's Jazz Singing -- King had the respect of many topflight jazz musicians of the day. This album captures King's work during her transition to solo artist from working as part of groups like the Nat Pierce Orchestra. Although the album's title describes the period covered as 1949-1954, some of her later records as included as well. King's voice was a melodious soprano (although slipping into contralto from time to time), and had a bell-like tone distinguished by a vibrato that got heavier as the years progressed. Her extraordinary vocal translucence and excellent phrasing came from early training in classical music. "This Magic Moment" discloses the depths to which King explored the emotional value of a song. Her performance of the Doc Pomus/Mort Schuman tune wrenches at emotional heartstrings. But she could also be jazzy, as indicated by a short version of "Who's Sorry Now?" and by "I Don't Know Why," where she is backed by Charlie Shavers' trumpet. There are also six tracks from 1952, when she was with the George Shearing Quintet. Her voice meshes nicely with the vibes that Shearing's group used in those days. This collection also includes four sides from rare demo discs. Unfortunately, neither the dates nor the composers can be identified. But clearly these sides come from a period when King was influenced by Sarah Vaughan, as on "Lonesome Crowd." Teddi King died too young from lupus -- she was barely 48. She had just recorded a session with Dave McKenna, but passed away before it was released. The last track on this CD is a little promotion by Baldwin Street Music, as it previews other of its releases. With In the Beginning, Baldwin Street has once again culled the recorded archives with considerable success. This is another winner in the label's quest to bring to CD sessions that are not easily available, if available at all, by well-known and relatively unknown vocalists alike. Recommended.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan