Cora Lee Day: My Crying Hour / Debby Moore: My Kind Of Blues

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Both of these albums are rare finds by the intrepid Jordi Pujol of Fresh Sound for his Best Voices Time Forgot series and are an interesting contrast between the two singers. Cora Lee Day, later better known as a TV and film actress, notably in Julie Dash’s 1991 film Daughters Of The Dust, recorded the album My Crying Hour in 1960 and immediately the resemblance to Billie Holiday is apparent, in both intonation and inflection.

She is not merely a copyist though, and the quality of her vocals shines through, her style largely avoiding the fragility often associated with Holiday whilst retaining the element of slightly behind-the-beat phrasing. Some of the tracks have an orchestral backing and whilst Jerry Valentine’s lush swinging arrangements are first rate, it’s the sextet sides that capture the attention, in terms of delivery and complementing the singer’s interpretation of the material. The smooth, mellow warmth of Illinois Jacquet’s tenor, the close shadowing of vocal lines by guitarist Barry Galbraith, and the economic and tightly muted accompaniment of Harry Edison all add to the flavour of the album. The support is particularly fine on When Your Lover Has Gone, The Very Thought of You, Try A Little Tenderness and the heartfelt Trouble Is A Man, a cover of the 1946 Peggy Lee number.

Emmaline Maultsby’s stage name, Debby Moore, was apparently given her by Louis Armstrong and she had some success in clubs singing with Earl Hines and Count Basie. More of a “popular” vocalist than Cora Lee Day, she has a bluesy, sometimes raunchy style, with distinct, inventive vocal interjections, asides and accents, often adding a hint of sensuality, and even drops the occasional whistling passage in. Harry Edison is the only horn, soloing on each, a lesson for any trumpet student in how to effectively use a mute. Unassertive and understated, he manages to maintain a closely aware presence and an eloquent interplay with the vocals.

Ms Moore’s material is an attractive mix of blues and standards, which she handles with assurance, including a number of her own compositions, of which Nothin’ But Trouble On My Mind stands out, with Edison’s sharp trumpet and with a clarity of tone and pitch in the singer’s brief whistling interlude. The final track, I Get a Feeling, is added to the original album, a single for Top Rank with accompanying unknown male.

Discography
[My Crying Hour] (1) My Crying Hour; When Your Lover Has Gone; Trouble Is A Man; The Very Thought Of You; I See A Million People; Ain’t No Use; It Isn’t Fair; You Taught Me How To Cry; Weeping Willow; Try A Little Tenderness; I’m Gonna Laugh You Out Of My Life; The Masquerade Is Over; [My Kind Of Blues] (2) Five Months, Two Weeks, Two Days; Come On Home to Me; See See Rider; Nothin’ But Trouble On My Mind; Sent For You Yesterday; Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home; I’m Travelin’ Light; (I Know) My Baby Loves Me True; Why Don’t You Do Right; How Come You Do Me Like You Do Do Do; Hallelujah, I Love Him So; No Love, No Nothin’; (3) I Get A Feeling (73.26)
(1) Cora Lee Day with Orchestra and Sextet: Harry Edison (t); Illinois Jacquet (ts); Jimmy Jones (p); Barry Galbraith (g); Eddie Jones (b); Osie Johnson (d). New York City, June 1960.
(2) Debby Moore with Harry Edison (t); Jimmy Jones (p); Barry Galbraith (g); George Duvivier (b); Elvin Jones (d). New York City, December 1959.
(3) Debby Moore with unknown accompaniment.
Fresh Sounds FSR V127