VOICES Notes and news on Jazz Vocals releases
15 APR 13 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Vocalist Honi Gordon was New York City's go-to jazz studio singer in the 1950s and early '60s, the golden age of bop. She appears on albums recorded by legends like Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton but released only one album as a leader, 1962’s Honi Gordon Sings.
Gordon is backed by A-list musicians, the heart of which is a piano trio consisting of Jaki Byard, George Duvivier and Ed Shaughnessy. She sings with a clear soprano and impeccable intonation reminiscent of a young Ella.
Honi was part of a family vocal group called The Gordons. Patriarch George Gordon Sr. was a composer who worked with Mingus, writing lyrics to his instrumentals as well as contributing originals to Mingus recordings. "Strollin,'" the opening track, is a vocal version of Mingus' "Nostalgia In Times Square," with lyrics written by George Sr. (Honi first recorded on the Mingus Dynasty album.) Gordon also had a longstanding musical relationship with pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams, recording for her for over two decades. Williams' "Walkin' (Out The Door)," a straight ahead 12 bar blues, is included in this set.
"Cupid" isn't the Sam Cooke version but a jazz ballad written by Sonnie Leonard with lyrics by George Sr. Honi first recorded it in 1953 with the family band and Hank Jones at the helm.
Critic Scott Yanow puts it best when he said, "Honi Gordon's obscurity is a mystery for she displays a great deal of talent…This is bop based jazz singing at its best."