Lorez Alexandria was a superb singer in the Sarah Vaughan mold. Alexandria recorded more than 20 albums over a 36-year period starting in 1957. Why she isn't a household name today is beyond me. Perhaps it was the smaller labels she was on or her decision to cling to Chicago, a lesser media market, for much of her career. Or maybe one Sarah Vaughan was sufficient. There are no bad Alexandria albums. All have a hip, confident charm.
One of my favorites is her second album, Lorez Sings Pres: A Tribute to Lester Young. Recorded after hours for King in front of an audience of friends at an unnamed Chicago club on November 6 and 13, Alexandria was accompanied by Paul Serrano (tp), Cy Touff (b-tp), Charles Stepney (vib), King Fleming (p), Eldee Young (b) and Vernell Fournier (d). Each of the Chicago players here had a celebrated career.
Drummer Fournier was a member of the Ahmad Jamal Trio and one of the great brush players. Cy Touff was an exceptional bass trumpeter who recorded many terrific albums as a leader. Paul Serrano shifted from trumpet to engineering and worked with major jazz, rock, soul and gospel artists, including Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger. He eventually became head engineer at Delmark Records. Stepney woudl work as a producer for numerous soul artists in the 1960s and '70s. Fleming worked in Chicago steadily throughout the 1960s and beyond. And Eldee Young was a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, before leaving the group in the mid-1960s to become the Young in Young Holt Unlimited (Soulful Strut). [Photo above of Vernell Fournier on drums with the Ahmad Jamal Trio]
As the liners notes on the back cover of Lorez Sings Pres points out, all of the songs chosen were recorded by Lester Pres" Young. Alexandria here proves she had an in-depth feel for Young without succumbing to mimicking his style or solos. For her, the Young material was simply a springboard to be herself. Interestingly, this album preceeds Sarah Vaughan's After Hours at the London House by four months. Makes you wonder whether Lorez's album gave Mercury the idea to record Sassy live in a Chicago club filled with friends.
Lorez Alexandria died in 2001.
JazzWax clips: Here's Polka Dots and Moonbeams...
Polka Dots and Moonbeams
And here's the entire album...
A special thanks to Dennis Galloway.
This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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