Irma Curry with Don Elliott – Love is a Necessary Evil
Irma Curry was an aspiring blues and jazz singer from Baltimore who landed the vocalist spot with Lionel Hampton and his orchestra in 1950. She soon revealed herself as an impressive singer, with a vocal personality that was her own—“The Little Mite with the Big Voice”.
On her 1962 album “Love Is a Necessary Evil,” she was accompanied by a very swinging band assembled by Don Elliott to play Al Cohn’s freshly conceived arrangements, which form an excellent frame for her voice. All the lyrics are by Jack Segal, who wrote them in collaboration with four composers, among them George Handy, who contributed with Forgetful and Leavin’ Town. Elliott played vibes, mellophone, and did some scat singing on the main title, while the group is completed by altoist Hal McKusick, guitarists Barry Galbraith and Chuck Wayne, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Jo Jones.
One side of the bonus single is A Heart Must Learn to Cry, Dimitri Tiomkin’s love theme for the 1965 film “36 hours,” arranged by Benny Carter, who composed and arranged the other, We Were In Love. The remaining tracks are four ballads from 1950-1951, beautifully delivered by the singer while she was with Hampton’s band. Driven by clear diction and imaginative phrasing and a fine range, her voice has an insinuating, slightly nasal and sensuous edge. Comfortable at any tempo, she was quality personified.
1. Love Is a Necessary Evil (Segal-Fisher) - 2:05 2. A Stranger in the City (Segal-Danzig) - 2:28 3. Forget About the Boy (Segal-Russell) - 2:33 4. Too Much Too Soon (Segal-Fisher) - 1:58 5. When Sunny Gets Blue (Segal-Fisher) - 2:47 6. Goin’ Back to Joe’s (Segal-Fisher) - 3:26 7. Forgetful (Segal-Handy) - 2:44 8. Can’t Help It (Segal-Fisher) - 2:16 9. No Spring This Year (Segal-Russell) - 2:38 10. Ain’t Nobody Home (Segal-Fisher) - 1:50 11. No One Came to My Party (Segal-Russell) - 2:38 12. Leavin’ Town (Segal-Handy) - 2:59 13. Love Is a Necessary Evil [Reprise] (Segal-Fisher) - 1:16 14. A Heart Must Learn to Cry (Tiomkin-Webster) - 2:38 * 15. We Were In Love (Benny Carter) - 2:58 * 16. I’ll Never Be Free (Benjamin-Weiss) - 3:21 * 17. Who Cares (Hampton-Hammer-Duncan) - 3:15 * 18. If You Ever Learn to Love Me (Hammer-Croques) - 3:14 * 19. A Kiss Was Just a Kiss —Recitation by Eve Lynn (Wolff-Tishman) - 2:48 *
(*) Bonus tracks not part of the LP sequence
Tracks #1-13, from the Columbia album "Love Is A Necessary Evil" (CS8554)
Tracks #14 & 15, from the 45 rpm Vee-Jay VJ 669
Track #16, from the 78 rpm Brunswick 04576
Track #17, from the 78 rpm Decca 27305
Track #18, from the 78 rpm Decca 28230
Track #19, from the 78 rpm MGM 11371
Personnel on #1-13:
Don Elliott & His Orchestra, arranged by Al Cohn
Irma Curry (vcl), Don Elliott, mellophone, vibes & scat singing; Hal McKusick, alto sax; Barry Galbraith & Chuck Wayne, guitars; Bill Crow, bass; and Jo Jones, drums.
Recorded in New York City, January, 1962
Personnel on #14-15:
Irma Curry, vocals, with Orchestra Arranged and Conducted by Benny Carter.
Recorded in Chicago, 1965
Personnel on #16-19:
Irma Curry, vocals, with Lionel Hampton’s Orchestra
Recorded in New York, January 25 (#16), October 30 (#18); Los Angeles, October 13 (#17), 1950; and New York, May 8 (#19), 1951
Original Columbia recordings produced by John Hammond
Lionel Hampton's Decca sessions produced by Milt Gabler
Cover photo: Henry Parker
This CD compilation produced by Jordi Pujol