By now I'm sure you know I dig obscure, dynamic female jazz vocalists who recorded in the 1950s. In the past, I've raved about Betty Bennett, Doris Drew, Jane Fielding, Marcy Lutes, Mavis Rivers, Peggy Connelly, Thelma Gracen and Toni Harper. And for your convenience, they're all linked to my posts down the right-hand side, under "Fab '50s Vocalists." Today I want to introduce you to Vicky Lane's I Swing for You (RCA).
The album was recorded in Hollywood in 1959. What makes it extra special is that the combo was arranged and conducted by Pete Candoli. The personnel included Candoli on trumpet, Barney Kessel on guitar, Johnny Williams and Jimmy Rowles on piano, Joe Mondragon on bass with Alvin Stoller, Larry Bunker, Milt Holland, Lou Singer, Ralph Hansell, Johnny Cyr and Gene Estes alternating on drums and a range of percussion instruments, including chimes, xylophone, vibraphone, bongos and tympani.
Born in Ireland (nee Coghlan), Lane was an American actress who was married to Candoli between 1953 and 1958. Her singing voice on this album is deep, melodic, hip and upbeat, akin to Jo Stafford—though Lane's range was a little higher. As Billboard noted in its December 1959 mention of the album, "Watch this girl, she has talent." Oddly, this was the only LP she recorded.
Lane did record two singles with Candoli in 1955 for Sunset Records. The songs were 'S Wonderful backed by I Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues, and Global Blues backed by I Love a Parade. Given the odd titles and range here, these were likely made to serve as demos, and Candoli was able to get her some press. As Billboard noted in December 1955 in a squib...
"Pete Candoli backs up his Mrs. here with some wailin' blues trumpet tones. The lady shows some fine feel for the blues idiom on her first outing on wax."
Thanks to Billboard we also know that Lane signed with RCA in February 1959, after Candoli brought her to the attention of Bob Yorke, head of the label's West Coast operations.
All of the tracks on I Swing for You are brightly arranged in the '50s Hollywood vernacular. The 12 breezy tracks are The Trolley Song, Our Very Own, My Romance, You Hit the Spot, Love Isn't Born (It's Made), My Heart Stood Still, They Say It's Wonderful, The Song Is You, Long Ago and Far Away, I Love You, Right as the Rain and This Heart of Mine.
Also, a word about Candoli's orchestration. As you listen to the clip below, remember how relatively small this combo is. Amazing what you can do with the right core instrumentenation—trumpet, guitar, vibes and drums). Sounds much larger.
Lane died in August 1983 at the young age of 57. Hopefully Tara Candoli, her daughter with Pete Candoli, will reach out. Vicky Lane was a special vocalist, and perhaps in the weeks ahead I can provide more details about her singing career.
JazzWax tracks: Out of print, this album is selling for over $100 as an LP at eBay but for around $14 on CD here. You also may be able to find it at download sites.
JazzWax clip: Here's Vicky Lane singing You Hit the Spot from I Swing for You. Please note that the model who appears on the album cover used for this clip is not Vicky Lane and that Lane's first name is misspelled there. Dig the smart, tight arrangement by Candoli and Lane's intonation throughout as she surfs the tempo...