Vocal Noir

Some obscure, atmospheric jazz vocals this week.

1. Mark Murphy, Come and Get Me (Riverside)
“Come and Get Me” is just so macabre – and on so many levels.  From those first creeping bass notes to the strings’ final eerie groan, Murphy is able to wrench every last drop of emotion from his plea, all with a sort of unhinged delirium rare in jazz. And it’s rarely captured with such effectiveness, too. Can you hear him pleading with his woman? Do you understand when he sings “Come and get me,” that he’s pleading with his dead woman?

The NYC jazz label Riverside had the prescience to record Murphy’s hipster vocals with sympathetic musicians on several fine, jazzy albums in the early ’60s. Mark Murphy still records (and performs). He later recorded this song for his 1973 album Bridging the Gap.

This version of “Come and Get Me” was only released on 45.

2. Jeri Simpson, My Black Lace (Sun-Kist)
A bachelor’s vacation on some far-flung jungle isle might seem like a good idea at first.  Much of what ’50s exotica implied, though, was that, really, wouldn’t your time be better spent elsewhere, away from the reality of the steaming tropics and unfriendly natives and language barriers and everything? Instead, say, on your couch?

Jeri Simpson’s sultry vocals exemplify that spirit of armchair adventure. “My Black Lace” is an invitation, and, when she hits those husky notes, who are we to turn her down? Ms. Simpson’s performance is showcased here to great effect by the restraint of the backing musicians, an intimate style popularized by the torch singer Julie London on some of her sexier ’50s albums (she even used the same two backing musicians – Kessel and Leatherwood).  London never sang with quite the same jungle ardor, though.

It’s from Los Angeles. I otherwise have no idea about who Ms. Simpson is, sadly.

3. Marilyn Ross, Out of This World (Suave)
Not as feverish as this week’s other selections, but Ms. Ross – complemented by a touch of Latin percussion and her cool jazz accompaniment – transforms this Harold Arlen evergreen into pure boudoir fantasy

Recorded for Beverly Hills’s own Suave record label, sometime in the late ’50s, Marily Ross is joined here by West Coast jazz stalwarts Clare Fischer and Red Mitchell.

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3 Responses to Vocal Noir

  1. Blanca says:

    The audio component of your obscure masterpiece blows my mind. Jeri’s voice is more velvety than my imagination could conjure. So this is it for Ms. Simpson’s legacy? Tragedy!

  2. I knew the audio component would rock your world, young lady!

    I did forget to note that – according to the label – the music and lyrics were brought to us by “Jack & Bill Simpson.” So presumably this record is some sort of family affair. That’s otherwise the extent of my knowledge about Ms. Simpson.

    On a purely speculative note, I’d say that she always kept a house boy or 2 around. You know. Just in case.

  3. David says:

    I just listened to “Come and Get Me” for the first time in months and it is just simply amazing! The song definitely sounds like something Morphine would have recorded before Mark Sandman’s tragic passing. I’m so glad you’re back to blogging about this amazing music that for one reason or another never found a huge audience.

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