Two rare slices of work from Helen Merrill – overlooked 60s sessions recorded with pianist/
arranger Dick Katz! First up is the album The Feeling Is Mutual – wonderfully moody session from Merrill – and an obscure one too! The album was recorded in New York in 1965 – with pianist Katz leading an off-beat group that featured Thad Jones on cornet, Jim Hall on guitar, Ron Carter on bass, and Pete LaRoca on drums – a combo that has equal talents for modern moments and more sensitive moods. The groove is much more fragmented than on some of Helen's earlier records for Mercury – with a jagged edge that works perfectly with her strangely detached style of presenting a lyric – a way of looking at familiar tunes almost from the outside, in ways that really come up with something new. Titles include "Baltimore Oriole", "Here's That Rainy Day", "Day Dream", "The Winter Of My Discontent", "What Is This Thing Called Love", and "Deep In A Dream". Shade Of Difference is almost even more amazing – recorded in 1968 with a unique group of players that includes Gary Bartz on alto, Elvin Jones on drums, Thad Jones on cornet, Hubert Laws on flute, and Jim Hall on guitar. The approach is incredible – strangely off-key at many times, with a sad approach that shows Helen as a far greater singer than she ever was in the 50s. The session's laid under-discovered for years – quite possibly because of its overly-dark quality – but it's actually one of the greatest records that Merrill ever cut, one that pushes her up to, and almost past, the level of June Chris
ty and Chris Connor
. Titles include "Where Do You Go", "Lonely Woman", "While We're Young", "A Lady Must Live", "I Want A Little Boy", and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most".
(Out of print.)