Etta Jones: Don’t Go To Strangers

Echoes of Billie Holiday and Thelma Carpenter are heard in Jones's bestseller, along with good jazz from Frank Wess, Roy Haynes and others


This album made Etta Jones an instant sensation with the title track going gold, hitting the US top 40 and reaching number 5 in the R & B charts. This success was not to be repeated and Jones never really became the household name she deserved to be. She did, however, achieve some success as a jazz vocalist.

Often confused with Etta James, Jones was born in South Carolina in November 1928. Brought up in Harlem, she toured with Buddy Johnson’s band for several years but without any recording credits. She made her first solo recordings in 1944 and performed with the Earl Hines Sextet from 1949 to 1952.

Jones did receive three Grammy nominations during her lifetime – for Don’t Go To Strangers (1960), Save Your Love For Me (1981) and My Buddy (1999). The present album was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2008 and has sold over a million copies since its first release. Her other recordings did not achieve the same success but gave her a solid fan base. She died in October 2001, three months after recording her final album – Sings Lady Day – a tribute to Billie Holiday.

This album deserves its success. There are some fine contributions from members of her quintet, including Frank Wess and Roy Haynes, but the star of the show is undoubtably Jones, whose voice has strong echoes of Billie Holiday and Thelma Carpenter. Whilst the songs have been recorded many times before, it feels that they were specially written just for her. That is the hallmark of a special singer.

Waxtime have chosen to colour this vinyl in shocking pink and it is issued in their trademark 180-gram weight. There are three bonus tracks – Maybe You’ll Be There, Till There Was You (recorded three months earlier) and Canadian Sunset (recorded three months later). Except for the bonus tracks, the main album was recorded and produced by Rudy Van Gelder at his Englewood, NJ studio. In all respects this is a quality album.

(1) Yes Sir, That’s My Baby; Don’t Go to Strangers; I Love Paris; Fine And Mellow; Where Or When; (2) Maybe You’ll Be There; If I Had You; On The Street Where You Live; Something To Remember You By; Bye Bye Blackbird; All The Way; (3) Canadian Sunset; (2) Till There Was You (46.49)
Jones (v) on all tracks with:
(1) Frank Wess (ts, f); Richard Wyands (p); Skeeter Best (g); George Duvivier (b); Ron Haynes (d). Van Gelder Studios, Englewood, New Jersey, 21 June 1960. (2) Jimmy Neely (p); Wally Richardson (g); Michel Mulia (b); Rudy Lawless (d). New York, 30 March 1961. (3) as (1) but Wess and Best out and Lem Winchester (vib) in. New York, 16 September 1960.
Waxtime In Color 950732