They Can't Take These Connie Boswell Songs Away From Me

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Connie Boswell's Moonlight and Roses Connee Boswell Heart and Soul

Early on she played cello, piano, alto sax and trombone but unfortunately never recorded on any instruments. ... Connee Boswell (who worked out most of the Boswell's surprising arrangements) occasionally recorded solo sides of her own. ... Although she never broke through to become a major star, Connee Boswell was fairly well-known and worked steadily into the 1950's ...
- Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

I've already confessed my mad passion for the hot vocal harmony of the Boswell Sisters. When two of the sisters married Connie - sometimes Connie - Boswell became a solo singer.

Ella Fitzgerald:

Ella wore secondhand clothes and boots when she stepped into the limelight. Nervousness made her start off key, and the audience, never known for their patience, grew irritable. It needed the manager’s intervention before she could go on. She sang two songs, Judy and The Object of my Affection, modelled along the style of her favorite singer Connie Boswell.

"The man said, `Do something,'" recalled Ella, "so I tried to sing like Miss Connie Boswell and somebody in the audience said, `Hey, that little girl can sing!' I won first prize.

When I started looking for Connie Boswell CDs the only one in print was an expensive Japanese import. I had to settle for a few of her duets with Bing Crosby on Crosby compilations. Then a couple of reissue discs came out. They were disappointing. Like many Southern pop singers (she was from New Orleans) she was encouraged – in her case probably by Decca's Jack Kapp – to lose the accent. As with Woody Herman and Dinah Shore when the regional qualities vanished so did the swing and individuality.

On my recent CD buying bing I discovered the two disc They Can't Take These Songs Away From Me. The disc samples her work without her sisters from the 1930s – 40s. Here Connie sings with her natural voice and swings freely. Plenty of good musicians back her: Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Venuti, Eddie Lang.

Back to Ella Fitzgerald:

I know that Connie Boswell was doing things that nobody else was doing at the time. You don't have to take my word for it. Just check the recordings made at the time and hear for yourself.

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Thanks,
Richard

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