Millie Vernon - Introducing Millie Vernon

Weep For The Boy - 2.20
Moments Like This - 2.11
Spring Is Here - 2.58
St. James Infirmary - 2.47
My Ship - 3.14
Moon Ray - 3.02
Everything But You - 2.36
Every Time - 3.02
Blue Rain - 2.52
I Don't Know What Kind Of Blues I've Got - 2.39
I Guess I'll Have To Hang My Tears out To Dry - 3.35

Millie Vernon is one of many female vocalists who made a handful of recordings in the 1950s then pretty much disappeared from view, probably to raise a family. Information about the singer is extremely sketchy, though she did return to record one final album in the mid-1980s.

For her debut recording, Millie Vernon focuses on ballads, including songs from musicals, jazz standards and a few overlooked gems as well. Backing the rich-voiced alto is an all-star cast, including cornetist Ruby Braff, pianist Dave McKenna (who pretty much avoids his typical stride approach), guitarist Jimmy Raney, bassist Wyatt Reuther and drummer Jo Jones (who is a master of subtle brushwork). But the spotlight is on the young singer, with the musicians mostly sticking to being accompanists. Although Vernon was relatively new on the scene, she handles the show tunes with the finesse of a veteran performer. She builds the bittersweet “Spring is Here” in dramatic fashion, while her lovely setting of “My Ship” finds her backed by just Raney and Reuther. “Weep For the Boy” found favor among singers during the 1950s, but has faded from view. In her interpretation, Vernon’s voice has just a touch of raspiness, with Braff contributed a brief muted statement in the background near its conclusion. “Moments Like This” begins as a mid-tempo clip before suddenly switching to a deliberate tempo that best showcases Vernon’s lush held notes that feature just a touch of vibrato. She does justice to Duke Ellington’s songs, capturing the whimsical nature of “Everything But You” (featuring a sassy few bars by Braff and McKenna), while Reuther’s walking bass line provides a delicious backing for her introduction to “I Don’t Know What Kind of Blues I’ve Got,” though this piece is mostly of a showcase for the superb solos by Braff, Raney and McKenna. Millie Vernon is clearly a singer who deserves wider recognition, even with her limited discography.

Ken Dryden




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