Round Midnight - 3.16
I Concentrate On You - 3.51
It Never Entered My Mind - 4.28
Little Girl Blue - 5.37
What's New - 2.59
Prelude To A Kiss - 3.03
Teddi King ‘Round Midnight
Due to her premature death, jazz vocalist Teddi King has been somewhat overlooked by all but those who remember hearing her during her peak years of the 1950s, as she recorded a number of LPs for Storyville and RCA Victor, while achieving a few minor hits along the way. After World War II, the contralto won a vocal competition in Boston (her hometown) that was hosted by Dinah Shore. In 1949, she made her first recording with pianist Nat Pierce and later worked with the Beryl Booker Trio and toured with George Shearing. She won the Downbeat Critic’s Poll as Best New Artist in 1955 and appeared with Woody Herman the same year at the Newport Jazz Festival. She was still performing into the 1960s, though record dates were fading. After being diagnosed with lupus in 1970, she continued to perform and record several albums for Audiophile until shortly before succumbing to the disease at the age of forty-eight in the fall of 1977.
This session for Storyville features King singing ballads with Booker as her sole accompanist, another artist whose work has been neglected, in part because she retired from performing after just over a decade of recording. The singer’s stunning, deliberate interpretation of Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” captures the song’s melancholy air with Booker’s sublime playing behind her. “What’s New” has long been a favorite of singers, though like “‘Round Midnight” it was initially an instrumental. King conveys its lyric sincerely as the woman encounters a former flame while obviously her passion still burns brightly for him. Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You” is frequently played at a brisk tempo, though the singer’s choice to perform it as a slow ballad better conveys its emotional edge. King restores the oft-omitted verse to Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart’s “It Never Entered My Mind,” in which her lush held notes and dramatic phrasing embellish this emotional ballad of loneliness. She also works her magic with Rodgers & Hart’s “Little Girl Blue” (introduced in their 1935 Broadway musical “Jumbo”) with the arrangement suggesting a distressed woman pacing alone as she sings its moody lyric.