Master Composers: Evoking memories of Doris Day, Chris Connor had that simply gentle voice

Born as Mary Loutsenhizer, Chris Connor (1927-2009) was an extremely popular jazz vocalist with Capitol and Atlantic Records.

The peak of her career was during the 1950’s while performing on tour with Stan Kenton’s band.  She had three songs place in the top of the charts from “And The Bull Walked Around, Ole”, “I Miss You So”, and “Trust In Me.”

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

In 1965, Chris took a brief career turn with ABC/Paramount Records.  My album Pick of the Week features the first of her two albums devoted mostly to her take on bossa nova.

With big hits like “Baby, The Rain Must Fall” and Lani Hall’s relaxing version of Sergio Mendes’ hit “Quiet Nights”, the liner notes inside the cardboard packed jewel case said the following:

“The nicest thing that could happen to bossa nova is Chris Connor.  Listen…

Here he she is performing the first track on the compilation album, “Can’t Get Over the Bossa Nova”:

And here is the very popular and catchy riffs, minus the familiar echoes on “Downtown”:

Her career spanned an incredible five decades.  She definitely belongs with the many jazz legends that made the genre extremely popular in the middle of the 20th century.


SPECIAL NOTE:  Blues legend B.B. King died late on Thursday night at the age of 89 after suffering a long illness in a Las Vegas hospice.  His last appearance was on October 3, 2014 after quibbling on stage at the famed House of Blues in Chicago.

A true giant in every sense of the word.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

What Elvis Presley was to rock and roll and the likes of Duke Ellington and Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong were in the early years of jazz, B.B. King set the blues standard.

Albeit his touring schedule was nothing short of stunning, the many thousands of lives he touched with the means of how he played the strings of his Gibson guitar–simply quite remarkable.  In his later years, he became a supreme vocalist, going on tour almost 300 days a year until the 1990’s when he finally cut his touring schedule by about two-thirds to around 100 days.

Even with singing on the White House Blues tour with President Obama, you simply cannot beat the man who made “Lucille” and “The Thrill Is Gone” a household name.

But every time when the Chicago Bulls lose a game at the United Center, this is often the song you hear:

What a legend.  Even Tom Marker, longtime blues host of “The Blues Breakers” show heard every Monday night on WXRT Radio in Chicago said it best:

“BB was one of the most influential of musicians of any genre anywhere…”

I close with a short remembrance fronted by veteran midday host Terri Hemmert:

He will forever be missed.

See you all next week with my periodic DVD concert review.

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