Lurlean Hunter Biography

Singer Lurlean Hunter made five albums on her own during the second half of the '50s, starting out as a Lonesome Gal on RCA and winding up still feeling Blue & Sentimental for Atlantic. She was discovered in Chicago where she had been singing in many clubs, including a collaboration with drummer Red Saunders that held forth at the Club DeLisa. Hunter's move to New York City in 1955 was prompted by RCA's interest in recording her. The singer's recording career actually began before she left the Windy City at the behest of indie jazz labels, some of them quite short-lived -- such as Seymour, with a catalog topping out at four releases. The press described Hunter as a "blues thrush" in announcing her interpretations of three numbers actually written by the label's owner, producer and record store owner Seymour Schwartz. The latter promotional blurb inevitably told some truth about Hunter's stylistic traits, if not her relation to winged fauna. Her recordings were more about rhythm & blues and pop than jazz, yet were done in an era when such sessions often involved fine mainstream jazz players in the accompaniment. The 1956 Night Life, for example, featured pianist Hank Jones and tenor saxophonist Al Cohn. Blue & Sentimental -- with arrangements by the progressive Jimmy Giuffre -- was reissued in 2000 as a split CD also including an album by fellow singer Betty Bennett, a former wife of pianist André Previn. Hunter's final recordings were done in 1964, at which point she was still well under 40 years old. She is known to have died young, although details of this tragedy are murky. In one version of the story she was knocked off by a mobster lover, yet whether anybody was really that mean to Lurlean cannot be completely confirmed. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi


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