Thursday, 27 October 2011

Ghosts of Midnight - pt.7

Ghosts of Midnight is the latest edition of Your Heart Out which can be downloaded here free for all as a pdf. It is an affectionate tribute to the 1950s jazz label Bethlehem and some of its voices. One of Bethlehem’s great voices belonged to Betty Roché, who is one of my very favourite jazz or blues singers. I think it’s fair to say Betty didn’t have a lot of luck in the music business, she didn’t make many records, but there are many people discovering her extraordinarily beautiful voice. She recorded just the one LP for Bethlehem, which had possibly my very favourite Burt Goldblatt sleeve. It’s like the cover of a ‘noir’ crime novel, and really is quite beautiful. The record draws heavily on Betty’s connections with Duke Ellington, with whom she worked for some time as the featured vocalist in his orchestra.
After the Bethlehem set, Betty only recorded a couple more LPs, both for Prestige in the early ‘60s. One of these was Lightly and Politely, and if you like sweet vocal sets where jazz and blues blend exquisitely this is a perfect record, and features some wonderful performances like Rocks In My Bed. She is perfectly complemented by the small group format, including Wally Richardson on guitar who played on many great ‘60s and ‘70s recordings, Bobby Hutcherson’s Now!, Donald Byrd’s Electric Byrd etc., and made his own wonderful Soul Guru LP featuring a gorgeous version of Monday Monday.
The other LP Betty made for Prestige was Singin’ and Swingin’ and features Jack McDuff among others. Betty tackles standards but in a wonderful way, with irresistible scatting on numbers like I Just Got The Message Baby. Betty’s most famous moment, complete with scatting, I guess, is her early ‘50s performance singing on the Duke Ellington Orchestra recording of Take The A Train, with Louis Bellson o drums and Paul Gonsalves on sax. She is captured on film singing the same song with the Ellington band in Reveille with Beverley, and this clip really is glorious.


  1. see what you mean about that lp cover its really cool how you no who designs these these things amasese me, any way theres a new lp called jazz noire out its a double of soundtracks ect. sounds right up your dark black and white alley,whith a shadowy figer at the end.loved that version of monday monday

  2. You've got me all figured out there Glen!