Beverly Kenney

Sings for Playboys

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Beverly Kenney had a tragically brief life, committing suicide in 1960 when she was just 28, probably over a broken love affair. A subtle improviser with a haunting voice and a real skill for interpreting lyrics, she had six albums released during her lifetime. Sings for Playboys, despite its lightweight title, is one of her finest efforts. Accompanied by just pianist Ellis Larkins (who doubles on celeste) and bassist Joe Benjamin, Kenney digs into a dozen songs, only five of which could qualify as standards. While she brings new life to such tunes as "A Woman's Intuition" and "Try a Little Tenderness," she performs definitive versions of such forgotten numbers as "You're My Boy," "Life Can Be Beautiful," and "It's a Most Unusual Day." The music alternates between ballads and lightly swinging pieces with Larkins being a perfect accompanist for Kenney, who is heard throughout at her most expressive. The Japanese have rediscovered Beverly Kenney during the past decade; she's long overdue for American recognition.

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