Helyne Stewart

Love Moods

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In the liner notes that Leonard Feather wrote for Love Moods back in 1961, the famous jazz critic compares Helyne Stewart's voice to "cool spring water." Feather hit the nail on the head -- Stewart is soulful, but not in a rugged, tough, rock 'em, sock 'em sort of way. A smooth, polished, relaxed style of jazz singing defines Love Moods, which Lester Koenig produced at different sessions in January and August of 1961. Stewart is joined by the cream of Southern California's early-'60s jazz crop -- the participants include, among others, Teddy Edwards on tenor sax, Art Pepper on alto sax, Jack Sheldon on trumpet, Frank Rosolino on trombone, Pete Jolly on piano, and Leroy Vinnegar on bass. Some of Stewart's sidemen get a chance to solo, although it would have been nice if she had given them even more room to stretch out. But Stewart's singing is the main thing, and she shows a great deal of promise on well-known standards like "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "How Deep Is the Ocean." Equally memorable are her performances of Joe McCoy's "Why Don't You Do Right" (a hit for Peggy Lee in the 1940s) and the English version of "Besame Mucho." But as promising as Love Moods is, Stewart was little-known and faded into even greater obscurity after 1961. Reissued on CD in 1999, Love Moods offers a rare glimpse of the talented but underexposed jazz singer.

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