Teri Thornton: Lullaby Of The Leaves

Ella Fitzgerald cited the three-octave Thornton as her favourite, but like so many jazz talents the singer was submerged by the 60s pop wave

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Cannonball Adderley once described jazz singer Teri Thornton as “the greatest voice since Ella Fitzgerald”. In a 1963 Downbeat interview Ella herself cited Teri as her favourite singer and Tony Bennett highlighted her “perfect pitch and three-octave range” when he wrote an enthusiastic sleeve note for her 1963 Open Highway album.

Despite these encomiums, Thornton became another victim of the change in popular music that occurred in the 60s, remaining one of the best kept musical secrets of her time.

Her professional career began in Chicago where she worked with Johnny Griffin, who became one of her champions. It was Griffin along with Cannonball who persuaded Orrin Keepnews to record Lullaby Of The Leaves for his Riverside label. Originally titled Devil May Care, her set of superior standards received rave reviews. She was a class act and had everything a singer needed – crystal clear diction, delicately controlled vibrato and perfect intonation.

Her sultry contralto is sometimes reminiscent of Ernestine Anderson and it’s no wonder that Freddie Green said during the recording, “This girl has got to make it. If she doesn’t something’s very wrong.” There are few solos from the all-star cast but Britt Woodman and Clark Terry have a chance to shine on What’s Your Story, Morning Glory and Seldon Powell’s smoky tenor illuminates Left Alone and You’ve Got To Have Heart.

This LP is part of the Supper Club reissue series that includes releases by Ernestine Anderson, Betty Carter, Chris Connor, Ethel Ennis, Jackie & Roy, Etta Jones, Annie Ross and many more.


Discography

Lullaby Of The Leaves; Devil May Care; Detour Ahead; The Song Is You; My Old Flame; What’s Your Story, Morning Glory?; Mood Indigo; Dancing In The Dark; Left Alone; Blue Champagne; I Feel A Song Coming On; What’s New?; Blue Skies; You’ve Got To Have Heart (42.00)
Thornton (v); Clark Terry (t); Britt Woodman (tb); Earl Warren (as); Seldon Powel (ts); Wynton Kelly (p); Freddie Green, Sam Herman (elg); Sam Jones (b); Jimmy Cobb (d). New York, 23 December 1960 and 10 January 1961.
Supper Club 015SP