The Chris Connor Bio-Discography:
Bethlehem Period
by Iván Santiago Mercado

Page generated on Mar 14, 2017


Bio-Discographical Note: Chris Connor At Bethlehem Records (1953-1955)

For an overview of Chris Connor's year and a half with the Bethlehem record company (a brief but mutually beneficial period), see this page's final note. Also notice the blue arrowheads periodically found through this page; click on them if you want to see a longer list of albums containing any given Chris Connor performance.


Date: December 17-18, 1953
Location: New York
Label: BETHLEHEM

Chris Connor (ldr), Sy Oliver (pdr, con), The Sy Oliver Orchestra (acc), Sid Cooper, Milt Yaner (as), Boomie Richman, Sam Taylor (ts), Dave McRae (bar), Jim Bright, Jimmy Nottingham, Red Solomon (t), Vernon "Vern" Friley, Frank Saracco, Ward Silloway, Kai Winding (tb), Sid Block (b), Dave Martin (p), Jimmy Crawford (d), Chris Connor (v)

a. Master Blue Silhouette - 2:43(Murray Semos, Jack Val, Jimmy Dale) / arr: Sy Oliver
BETHLEHEM 78 & 45B 1291 — {Miser's Serenade / Blue Silhouette}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-114 — Chris {Part 1}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
b. Master Miser's Serenade (Mad Miser Man) (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme) - 2:44(Fred Patrick, Claude Reese, Marvin Fisher, Jack Val) / arr: Sy Oliver
BETHLEHEM 78 & 45B 1291 — {Miser's Serenade / Blue Silhouette}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-114 — Chris {Part 1}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
c. Alternate Take Miser's Serenade (Mad Miser Man) (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme) - 2:52(Fred Patrick, Claude Reese, Marvin Fisher, Jack Val) / arr: Sy Oliver
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
d. Master Ask Me - 2:44(Woody Hinderling, Mike Pollard) / arr: Sy Oliver
BETHLEHEM 781293 — {Chiquita From Chi-Wah-Wah / Ask Me}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-114 — Chris {Part 1}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
e. Alternate Take Ask Me - 2:44(Woody Hinderling, Mike Pollard) / arr: Sy Oliver
unissued
f. Master Chiquita From Chi-Wah-Wah - 2:46(Bennie Bonacio, Jimmie La Marge, Jimmie Franklin) / arr: Sy Oliver
BETHLEHEM 781293 — {Chiquita From Chi-Wah-Wah / Ask Me}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-114 — Chris {Part 1}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
g. Master Ev'rything I Love - 2:16(Cole Porter) / arr: Sy Oliver
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-127 — Chris {Part 2}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
London (10") LPHb N 1074 (United Kingdom) — Chris   (1957)
h. Alternate Take Ev'rything I Love - 2:24(Cole Porter) / arr: Sy Oliver
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
i. Master Indian Summer - 2:54(Al Dubin, Victor Herbert) / arr: Sy Oliver
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-130 — Chris {Part 3}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
London (10") LPHb N 1074 (United Kingdom) — Chris   (1957)
j. Alternate Take Indian Summer - 3:01(Al Dubin, Victor Herbert) / arr: Sy Oliver
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)

Dating & Masters

1. "Everything I Love"
2. "Indian Summer"
Readers should consider the dating of these two Bethlehem masters (Ev'rything I Love" and "Indian Summer") tentative rather than definitive. The task of correctly dating them has proved somewhat difficult. The various discographical texts and relevant sheets at hand offer different alternatives. One source places both masters under Connor's last sessions for Bethlehem (April 1955). Another source lists "Ev'rything I Love" under her earliest date (December 1953) but assigns "Indian Summer" to one of the 1955 sessions. Still another text places "Ev'rything I Love" under both sets of already-mentioned sessions (i.e., December 17-18, 1953; April 1955), thereby giving the odd impression that Connor re-recorded the song, for the same label, two years after she had first done so.

I have chosen to follow none of the sources to which I have referred above. Instead, I am trusting documentation that places both performances under Connor's debut session. The documentation in question is the earliest and the more reliable of the alternatives at my reach. In addition to that documentation, I have given credence to the 1956 liner notes of original Bethlehem LP BCP 56. In them, liner annotator Joseph P. Muranyi mentions "Ev'rything I Love" among the various songs which were recorded by Connor during her first date for Bethlehem.

There is one more reason for my belief that both masters come from Connor's debut solo date: my own listening of the two performances. They sport a brassy, big band feel, thereby sounding closer to Connor's other 1953 masters (known to have been backed by The Sy Oliver Orchestra) than to her 1955 numbers (small combo performances featuring just one piece of brass, played by Herbie Mann, and arrangements by pianist Ralph Sharon). In the Sharon-arranged numbers, the piano is heard with a regularity that is nowhere to be found in "Ev'rything I Love" and "Indian Summer."


Personnel

1. Sy Oliver
At this point in time, Sy Oliver, the session's arranger and conductor, was also the general musical director and A&R man for the East Coast operations of Bethlehem Records.

2. The Jim Bright Orchestra
Both above-listed Bethlehem 78 rpm singles identify the accompaniment as the "Jim Bright Orchestra." Released later, Bethlehem LPs credit the accompaniment to the Sy Oliver Orchestra instead -- and so do most discographies.


Songs

1. "The Miser Serenade"
Sometimes sub-titled "Mad Miser Man," this novelty is also known as "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme." In fact, Bethlehem 78-rpm disc B 1291 labels it "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (The Miser's Serenade)." Most subsequent releases just call it "The Miser's Serenade."


Songwriters

1. "Ask Me"
The original Bethlehem 78 rpm single credits "Ask Me" to Hinderling only. The credit to Pollard appears in later issues.


Issues & Collectors' Corner

1. The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor
This Bethlehem LP (BCP 56) was actually issued under two titles: Chris and The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor. The two versions contain the same tracks and feature the same Burt Goldblatt photo as front cover. There are a few minor differences between them, though. Most notably, the cover of The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor (1961) lists the album's twelve tracks and identifies the accompaniment as "Sy Oliver and others." On the other hand, the cover of Chris (1956) lists neither tracks nor accompaniment.

For another Bethlehem LP with two front covers, see next session, under Collectors' Corner.

2. Carmen McRae Vs. Chris Connor
Carmen McRae's entire output for Bethlehem Records can be found on side A of this Japanese LP (#MP 2378), released on the Polydor label. Side B features, on the other hand, Connor's entire December 17-18, 1953 session. Chosen for the album's front cover was the same artwork that graces Carmen's only original Bethlehem LP (i.e., Burt Goldblatt's memorable gallery of shots of McRae's red-lipstick mouth, in the act of singing). Polydor's only significant alterations of the original album's cover was the necessary change of the catalogue number and the addition of the words Vs. Chris Connor to the title. My thanks to Brian Yordnoff for directing me to a site that showed the album's front cover, and to Keizo Takada for identifying the Connor tracks that can be found in this LP.

3. Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland [1995 Nippon CD Edition]
4. "Ask Me" [alternate take]
The album Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland has been issued on CD in Japan numerous times, often with the inclusion of one or two alternate takes as bonus tracks. There is a 1995 Japanese reissue (Nippon Columbia COCY-78661) which, according to online sites, includes "Ask Me" as one of its two alternate takes. The same alternate take is also listed on the back cover of the CD itself, as track #15. However, no such alternate is heard on the actual CD disc. Instead, track #15 on Nippon Columbia COCY-78661 is "Stella By Starlight." (The latter is an alternate take as well. This is one of just two Chris Connor CDs that are known to include it; see session dated August 21, 1954.) My thanks to Max O. Preeo for alerting me to this error.

5. Chris [London 10" LP]
This album appears to be an 10" LP version of the 12" LP Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor). If so, the former is an abbreviated version of the latter, since it contains eight instead of twelve tracks.


Date: August 9-11, 1954
Location: Fulton Recording Studios, 80 West 40th St., New York, New York
Label: BETHLEHEM

Chris Connor (ldr), Creed Taylor (pdr), The Ellis Larkins Trio (acc), Everett Barksdale (g), Beverly Peer (b), Ellis Larkins (p), Chris Connor (v), Bob Garrity (spk)

a. Master What Is There To Say? - 2:51(Vernon Duke, Erwin 'Yip' Harburg)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-101A — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland {Part 1}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1001 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1954)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription Discp 6269 - P 6270 — Basic Music Library [7 Bethlehem vocals, 5 of them by Chris Connor, 2 by Bobby Troup]   (1955)
b. Master I Hear Music - 2:18(Burton Lane, Frank Loesser)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-101A — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland {Part 1}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1001 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
c. Alternate Take I Hear Music - 2:19(Burton Lane, Frank Loesser)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
d. Master Come Back To Sorrento - 2:43(Claude Aveling, Ernesto DeCurtis)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-101A — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland {Part 1}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1001 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1954)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription Discp 6269 - P 6270 — Basic Music Library [7 Bethlehem vocals, 5 of them by Chris Connor, 2 by Bobby Troup]   (1955)
e. Alternate Take Come Back To Sorrento - 2:43(Claude Aveling, Ernesto DeCurtis)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
f. Master Why Shouldn't I? - 2:42(Cole Porter)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-101A — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland {Part 1}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1001 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
g. Alternate Take Why Shouldn't I? - 2:54(Cole Porter)
EVIDENCE CD20-3005-2 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1992)
BETHLEHEM©Columbia's Nippon CDCOCY-78661 (Japan) — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1995)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 79851 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (2000)
Music Box/General Publishing Company Public Domain CD3302174122 (Greece) — Speak Low ("The Great Singers" Series)   (2010)
h. Master Try A Little Tenderness - 3:02(Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly, Harry Woods)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-101B — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland {Part 2}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1001 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1954)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription Discp 6269 - P 6270 — Basic Music Library [7 Bethlehem vocals, 5 of them by Chris Connor, 2 by Bobby Troup]   (1955)
i. Master Lullaby Of Birdland - 2:22(George Shearing, George David Weiss)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-101B — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland {Part 2}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1001 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
j. Master All About Ronnie - 2:57(Joe Greene)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-101B — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland {Part 2}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1001 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
k. Alternate Take All About Ronnie - 2:57(Joe Greene)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
l. Master Spring Is Here - 2:54(Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-101B — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland {Part 2}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1001 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)

Songs And Songwriters

1. "Come Back To Sorrento" (Authorship)
"Come Back To Sorrento" is an anglicized version of an Italian staple ("Torna A Surriento"). In one or another version, it has been recorded by numerous singers, many of them of Italian-American background. Different sets of English lyrics have actually been penned and recorded. Most issues credit Averling and DeCurtis as the authors of the set sung by Chris Connor. However, Avenue Jazz CD R2 759 credits instead a songwriter whose last name is given as "Little." Additionally, Avenue Jazz CD R2 759 specifies that the arranger of the number was Ellis Larkins. Yet another completely different answer is provided by ASCAP, which lists Eddie Safranski as the author of the versions by Connor. In the absence of more conclusive information, I have decided to trust the credit found in most Connor issues.

2. "All About Ronnie"
This ballad became a radio hit for Chris Connor (though a non-charting one) and remains the song that is most frequently associated with her. Not surprisingly, it is also the tune with the highest number of versions in this discography. To see details about versions recorded before the one from this date, consult sessions dated April 8 and May 25, 1953 in the page dedicated to her Big Band Singer Period. As for versions sung later than the one which is part of this session, most of them come from concerts; see, for instance, the session dated September 13, 1959 in the page for Concert, Radio & Television Dates.

3. "Why Shouldn't I?" (Alternate Take)
From Chris Connor's Bethlehem sessions, fifteen alternate have have been issued (or supposedly issued, as will be explained shortly). All of them are listed on this page. They were released by labels which acquired the Bethlehem catalogue in the 1990s, and which kept ownership of that catalogue for only a brief period. Unfortunately, close listening of each of these tracks strongly suggests that they are not alternates in the official sense of the word. Instead, these so-called alternates appear to be either exact replicas or, in some cases ("All About Ronnie," "Out Of This World"), merely edits of their respective masters. (Two or three do have the allure of containing studio talk, though the reference to them as "talk" is much too generous. At best, the words heard on the audio are all too brief and inconsequential.) There is, nevertheless, one notable exception to this norm: the above-listed take of "Why Shouldn't I?" is truly and fortunately an alternate -- i.e., a vocal version different from the one on the master take.


Issues & Collectors' Corner

1. Chris Connor With Ellis Larkins Trio [LP]
Found in various sources is a mysterious, otherwise unlisted issue, simply titled "Chris Connor with Ellis Larkins Trio." This is an easily solved mystery: the elusive album is actually the 10" LP Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland, (mis)identified only by the names of the singer and her accompaniment.

2. Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland (Jazz Series) [London EP]
This EP from London Records is actually the British edition of the USA Bethlehem EP Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland (Part 2). (So far, I have found no evidence of a British edition of Part 1.) To some eyes, the front cover of the London EP might look somewhat different from that of the American original: like a drawing of the photo that graces the Bethlehem EP's cover. There is no such difference, however. Both EP pressings feature the same photo on their respective covers. The typical use of lamination for British covers accounts for the false impression of difference between these covers.

3. Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland [Bethlehem 10" LP]
This issue starts out with a brief spoken introduction by Bob Garrity, the announcer who used to broadcast jazz concerts from the Birdland Club in New York City. The following is a transcription, courtesy of Chris Connor fan and collector Jason Perry:

"Hi, this is Bob Garrity of the Birdland Show. I'm very proud to welcome you to an album of songs by a girl we first heard in Birdland with The Stan Kenton Orchestra. Since that time, she made her solo debut in the club and, well, we feel this young gal is headed right for the top. She's picked eight wonderful compositions and three great musicians to accompany her. Ellis Larkins at the piano; Everett Barksdale, guitar and Beverly Peer on bass. It's our pleasure to present The Lullabys of Birdland with Chris Connor."

The concert announcer utters these words while the tune of "Lullaby Of Birdland" plays behind him. Presumably, the inclusion of Garrity's intro was a means to the end of establishing the album's credentials as a jazz date. More specifically, the album must have been conceived as a recreation of Connor's successful engagement at Birdland -- and as a cross-promotional tool. (n. b.: Garrity's contribution is not included in the 12" LP version.)

4. Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland [Bethlehem 12" LP]
This 12" LP (BCP 6004) came out with two slightly different front covers. On display in these covers are separate shots from the same photo session, which captured Connor in the act of singing. Both shots showcase the singer from her shoulders up. She is wearing a yellow shirt. In the most widely disseminated album cover (1956), the singer's mouth is wide open and her eyes are closed. In the rarer cover (1959), her mouth is barely open -- showing just her upper teeth -- and her eyes are open. Otherwise, the album artwork is essentially identical in the two versions, and the tracks are the same ones as well.

This was by no means the only album that Bethlehem would release with alternate front covers. Connor's own Chris (BCP-56) can be counted among the handful others that underwent a similar process. After being first issued in 1956, it was then re-released in 1961 under the longer title The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor. Undergoing similar treatment were K + J.J. (BCP-6001, retitled "Nuf Said" and printing the acts names, Kay Winding & J.J. Johnson, in larger font), East Coasting By Charlie Mingus (BCP-6019 and, in stereo, SBCP-6019; retitled The Genius Of Charlie Mingus), The Original ... And Best Of Nina Simone (BCP-6028 and, in stereo, BS-6028). A common denominator of this handful of Bethlehem albums is the fact that the second versions came out after after 1958, when the company's catalogue began to be distributed by the man who would later become its next owner, King Records' Syd Nathan.

On a separate topic, it should be noted that this 12" LP is not a straight reissue of the 10" LP that bears the same title. The shared title might lead to that seemingly natural but actually incorrect assumption. For further specifics on the matter, see this page's notes about Connor's original Bethlehem albums, under session dated December 17-18, 1953.

5. Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland [Toshiba CD TOCJ-9381]
Whereas the 12" LP version of Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland has been transferred to CD many times, this Toshiba disc is the one and only digital version of the 10" LP. It reproduces the original 10" issue's packaging in full, both front and back. (The latter is, incidentally, filled with extensive liner notes and with photos which, to my knowledge, have not been use in any other releases).

6. Lullaby Of Birdland [2003 King CD, released in Japan, with cat. no. KICG-456]
Upon first sight, the title of this CD could mislead Chris Connor fans into thinking that it contains recordings from Chris Connor's Bethlehem period. Instead, the CD features numbers that Connor recorded almost half a century after those which are being discussed on this page. For specifics about the disc, see notes under session dated April 2002 in the Post-Atlantic page.

Not having seen a physical copy of this CD until recently, for years my discographical information about it relied on a misleading review. As of early March 2017, that review by Scott Yanow is still online, and still misrepresents the contents of the disc. His write-up starts off as follows: "[t]his CD reissue draws its music from singer Chris Connor's first three sessions as a leader." It then proceeds to discuss some of her Bethlehem studio masters. To compound the mistakes, the review ends with the assertion that "King Records released a version of the CD in 2003."


Date: August 21,1954
Location: New York
Label: BETHLEHEM

Chris Connor (ldr), Creed Taylor (pdr), The Vinnie Burke Quartet (acc), Ronnie Odrich (f, cl), Joe Cinderella (g), Vinnie Burke (b), Don Burns (pac), Art Mardigan (d), Chris Connor (v)

a. Master Out Of This World - 2:54(Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-102A — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers {Part 1}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1002 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
b. Alternate Take Out Of This World - 2:54(Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
c. Master Lush Life - 2:53(Billy Strayhorn)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-102A — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers {Part 1}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1002 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6006 — Bethlehem's Girl Friends {Chris Connor, Julie London, Carmen McRae}   (1956)
d. Alternate Take Lush Life - 2:53(Billy Strayhorn)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
e. Master A Cottage For Sale - 2:37(Larry Conley, Willard Robison)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-102A — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers {Part 1}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1002 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
f. Master How Long Has This Been Going On? - 2:32(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-102A — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers {Part 1}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1002 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
g. Master Goodbye - 2:32(Gordon Jenkins)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-102B — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers {Part 2}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1002 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
h. Master Stella By Starlight - 2:26(Ned Washington, Victor Popular Young)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-102B — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers {Part 2}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1002 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
i. Alternate Take Stella By Starlight - 2:28(Ned Washington, Victor Popular Young)
BETHLEHEM©Columbia's Nippon CDCOCY-78661 (Japan) — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1995)
Music Box/General Publishing Company Public Domain CD3302174122 (Greece) — Speak Low ("The Great Singers" Series)   (2010)
j. Master Gone With The Wind - 2:19(Herb Magidson, Allie Wrubel)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-102B — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers {Part 2}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1002 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)
k. Master He's Coming Home - 2:42(Charles DeForest)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-102B — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers {Part 2}   (1954)
BETHLEHEM (10") LPBCP-1002 — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers   (1954)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6004 [reissued 1959] — Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland   (1956)

Songs

1. "Lush Life"
When Chris Connor was asked in 1995 which of the songs that she had recorded during her long career were her all-time favorites, Connor singled out "All About Ronnie" and "Lush Life." She added: "[o]ne of the hardest songs to sing is Lush Life, but I like to give myself a challenge.'

2. "Goodbye"
For a televised version of "Goodbye" that features the same arrangement as the version on this session, see notes under the September 13, 1962 entry of this discography's Concert, Radio & Television page.


Issues & Collectors' Corner

1. Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland [Nippon, Toshiba and Victor CD Editions]
2. "Stella By Starlight" [alternate take]
3. "Why Shouldn't I?" [alternate take]
4. "Ask Me" [alternate take]

In 1992, an American record label (Evidence) issued remastered CD editions of Chris Connor's three original Bethlehem LPs. In the case of Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland, an alternate take of "Why Shouldn't I?" was added as a bonus track.

Since 1995, several Japanese CD editions of the album Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland have also incorporated that alternate bonus track. Furthermore, most of the same Japanese editions have included an alternate track of "Stella By Starlight," too. Here is a listing of all the Japanese editions with the alternate takes (or rather, all the editions of which I am currently aware; there could certainly be more):

a) 1995 Nippon Columbia CD #COCY-78661 *
b) 1999 EMI Toshiba CD #TOCJ-62016
c) 2001 EMI Toshiba CD #TOCP-9307 **
d) 2005 EMI Toshiba CD #TOCJ-6342
e) 2007 Victor CD #VICJ-61452
f) 2010 Victor CD #VICJ-61633

* The back cover of COY-78861 fails to list "Stella By Starlight" on its back cover, and erroneously list an alternate of "Ask Me" instead.
** Contains only one alternate take, "Why Shouldn't I?" (Both the obi and the physical label of the CD itself correctly show the inclusion of just this one bonus track.) In other words, there is no "Stella By Starlight" alternate in TOCP-9307.

Readers should be aware that, since I do not own any of these Japanese editions, I have not been able to aurally verify the above-given details on my own. I have gathered my data about Japanese reissues mostly from online sites, with none or scant verification found anywhere else. Well into the process, I had the fortune of receiving kind assistance from Max O. Preeo and Stephen Platt. Max provided the key information about (a), while Stephen corroborated the accuracy of my details about (c) and (d).

5. Chris Connor {Chris / This Is Chris} [Japanese CD]
Domestically, Chris Connor's three albums for Bethlehem have been released separately, never as a twofer or a threefer. Therefore, the Japanese twofer CD under scrutiny (Nippon Columbia 33CY-1641) qualifies as a collectors' item among Connorphiles.

Since I have never seen a physical copy of this CD issue, I would appreciate receiving a description of its front cover artwork. The limited amount of information at my reach points toward the use of the same cover as the Bethlehem album Chris (BCP-56). The CD's title remains unclear to me, too. It might be Chris Connor or it might simply be Chris. I would also appreciate receiving any other worthwhile details that owners of CD copies might find suitable for the present discographical notes.

6. Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers [Toshiba CD TOCJ-9382]
This Japanese disc is another collectible: a CD facsimile of the 10-inch LP of the same title. The facsimile reproduces both the front and back covers of the 10" LP. It is the packaging that makes this item a collectible: before the release of Toshiba CD TOCJ-9382, the 10" LP had never been transferred onto the digital realm. (As for the tracks themselves, they can of also be found in many other CD releases, of course.) Incidentally, two rare photos and an informative set of liner notes can be found in the back cover of the 10" LP -- and thus, by extension, the back cover of TOCJ-9382.

7. A Technical Note About "Foreign" Or Non-Domestic Issues.
The following technical note replicates an explanation found both in the endnotes below and on a separate page that is expressly dedicated to Technical Notes And Discographical Policies. I am repeating the explanation herein as a courtesy to discographically-oriented readers who might feel momentarily confused about my omission of most Japanese (or foreign) CDs and LPs throughout the page.

For non-domestic releases, my Bethlehem sessionography adheres to the following policies.

a) Non-domestic releases of original albums are included only when they contain bonus tracks that are not found in the original domestic issue.

b) Such non-domestic CDs and LPs are listed only under said bonus tracks. In other words, the given CD or LP will not be entered under the regular tracks that it shares with its domestic counterpart(s).

c) If a given non-domestic issue meets the two above-mentioned criteria but qualifies as well as a reissue or re-pressing of another non-domestic issue (as is often the case with Japanese items, in particular), the Chris Connor sessionography shows only the earliest pressing or reissue. For instance, the present session lists the earliest Japanese pressing of Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland to contain an alternate take of "Stella By Starlight" (Columbia Nippon CD COCY-78861). It is listed because that alternate is not found on any preceding American edition of the album, and because it is the original issue of the alternate. Subsequent Japanese editions with the same alternate (e.g. Toshiba-EMI CD TOCJ-62016) are not listed. Furthermore, and as stipulated in (b) above, Columbia Nippon CD COCY-78861 is listed only under the alternate take, not under the tracks that it shares with the original American LP Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland.

d) As a result of the above-described policies, most Japanese reissues of Connor's albums have been excluded from the Bethlehem sessions that fill the present page. Elsewhere, however, I have made an effort to briefly document such reissues. If interested in consulting, for example, a list that includes pre-1995 and post-2010 Japanese editions of Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland (a list more extensive than the one in note #4 above), look for my entry about the original 1956 Bethlehem LP (BCP-6004) in the Issues Index. Therein, similar lists of foreign issues can also be found under each given original American album.

The above-explained policies do not apply to anthologies. The targeted items are instead non-domestic reissues of original Bethlehem albums.


Date: April 1955, Earlier Date
Location: New York
Label: BETHLEHEM

Chris Connor (ldr), Creed Taylor (pdr), The Ralph Sharon Group (acc), Herbie Mann (f, ts), Joe Puma (g), Milt Hinton (b), Ralph Sharon (p), Osie Johnson (d), Chris Connor (v)

a. Master Blame It On My Youth - 2:37(Oscar Levant, Edward Heyman)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-129 — This Is Chris {Part 2}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription Discp 6269 - P 6270 — Basic Music Library [7 Bethlehem vocals, 5 of them by Chris Connor, 2 by Bobby Troup]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM 4511005 — {Come Back To Sorrento / Blame It On My Youth}   (1958)
b. Master Ridin' High - 4:13(Cole Porter)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-129 — This Is Chris {Part 2}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 4435 - P 4436 — Basic Music Library [4 songs from LP This Is Chris]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LP2BP-1001 — The Finest Of Chris Connor   (1975)
Charly's Affinity Public Domain CS/LPAFF122 (United Kingdom) — Out Of This World   (1984)
Charly Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) __ — [Various Artists] Songs For Sophisticats   (1998)
FiveFour/Cherry Red Public Domain CD13 — All About Chris   (2006)
c. Master It's All Right With Me - 2:26(Cole Porter)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-126 — This Is Chris {Part 1}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6006 — Bethlehem's Girl Friends {Chris Connor, Julie London, Carmen McRae}   (1956)
BETHLEHEM©London EPRE-N 1093 (United Kingdom) — London's Girl Friends, No. 2   (1957)
d. Master All Dressed Up With A Broken Heart - 1:48(Fred Patrick, Claude Reese, Jack Val)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-126 — This Is Chris {Part 1}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 4435 - P 4436 — Basic Music Library [4 songs from LP This Is Chris]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LP2BP-1001 — The Finest Of Chris Connor   (1975)
e. Master Trouble Is A Man - 2:51(Alec Wilder)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-130 — Chris {Part 3}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 4435 - P 4436 — Basic Music Library [4 songs from LP This Is Chris]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LP2BP-1001 — The Finest Of Chris Connor   (1975)
Charly's Affinity Public Domain CS/LPAFF122 (United Kingdom) — Out Of This World   (1984)
FiveFour/Cherry Red Public Domain CD13 — All About Chris   (2006)
Stateside ?Licensed LPSR 7055 (Japan) — The Best Of Chris Conner   
f. Master All This And Heaven Too - 3:26(Ed DeLange, Jimmy Van Heusen)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-130 — Chris {Part 3}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 4435 - P 4436 — Basic Music Library [4 songs from LP This Is Chris]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-6006 — Bethlehem's Girl Friends {Chris Connor, Julie London, Carmen McRae}   (1956)
All titles on: BETHLEHEM LPBCP-20 — This Is Chris   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-5017 — This Is Chris   (1958)
BETHLEHEM LP6010 — Cocktails And Dusk   (1978)

Dating

The likelihood that eight Chris Connor performances were entered under one single session is very low. Though listed together in my sources, these songs are likelier to have been recorded over at least two sessions. The sessions could have been conducted on the same day, or over various days in April 1955.


Issues

1. This Is Chris [12" LP]
Of the various Chris Connor 12" LPs ever released by Bethlehem, the item under scrutiny (BCP 20) is the only one whose songs were recorded and conceived for the express purpose of making a 12" album. It was also the only 12" LP to be issued before the singer left the record company. Her other 12" Bethlehem albums came out after Connor's departure from the label; they are either expansions of the earlier EPs and 10" LPs or, otherwise, compilations and reissues.

2. This Is Chris [The London LP, In Australia And The UK]
In the United Kingdom, the 12" LP This Is Chris was released by London Records with catalogue number LZ-N-14036. In Australia, it was released as LZ-NA-14036; notice the addition of an A in the second prefix. These Australian and British issues are otherwise identical to their American counterpart (i.e., same title, same artwork, and same 10 tracks), except for a matter of size: the Australian pressing is a 10" LP. My thanks to Stephen Platt for supplying the details about both of these non-domestic pressings.


Collectors' Corner / A Note On EP Albums

From the outset of this note, I must clarify that I do not own copies of Chris Connor's EPs on Bethlehem. My information about them comes mostly from print and online sources, not from visual inspection of the physical issues. Hence, as part of an effort to fill gaps in the information at my reach, I have occasionally resorted to logical inferences.

In the United States, Bethlehem released nine Chris Connor EPs, which I have itemized below:

1) #114
Curiously, there are two different Bethlehem EPs that bear this catalogue number. One is by Chris Connor, the other by Helen Carr (also a vocalist under Bethlehem contract in the mid-1950s). Presumably, this use of the same catalogue number for two different EPs is a mistake on Bethlehem's part. I should also clarify that I have never seen the Helen Carr EP. My claim about the Carr EP number is based on my inspection of another issue's back cover (BEP-126), in which a partial listing of Bethlehem's EP catalogue has been printed. In that listing, EP #114 is identified as Helen Carr's, not Chris Connor's. Other miscellaneous sources have backed the accuracy of the claim, but I have yet to see the EP itself. Worth considering: the possibility that the intended number for the Connor EP was BEP-128, yet Bethlehem erroneously gave it instead the number BEP-114. (Catalogue number BEP-128 is further discussed below.)

2) #101A
3) #101B
4) #102A
5) #102B
These four EPs are part of Chris Connor's Lullabys series, which also includes two 10" LPs. (These LPs are documented in the couple of August 1954 sessions that are found above.) The LPs and the Eps use the same two photos in their respective covers. The photos can be seen in this discography's Main Index page. The contents of the LP Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers is distributed between two of the EPs, which also bear the same title as the EP. The same kind of distribution applies to the other LP/EPs. The Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers EPs differ from one another in the tint used to color each photo: yellowish in 102A, blue-greenish in 102B. As for the covers of the Lullabys Of Birdland EPs, the coloring of 101B seems to be darker than on 101A. (Caveat: I must stress that I'm relying on pictures found online, not on any sight and inspection of the physical EPs.) Finally, it is worth noting that the vinyl itself might not have title; instead, these EP discs might just identify singer and accompaniment ("Chris Connor acc. by Vinnie Burke Quartet") where the title should have been positioned.

6) #126
7) #127
8) #129
9) #130
0) #128 [non-existent?]
This quartet of EPs contain material from the singers' other original 12" LPs on Bethlehem, which are This Is Chris and Chris. Tracks from This Is Chris can be found in EPs #126, #129, #130. Tracks from Chris are also part of EP #127. (Caveat: I do not own copies of any of these EPs, and I have seen photos of some of them only. I am relying on online information.)

If the information found online is correct, then EPs #126 and #129 are both entitled This Is Chris and feature the same photo as the 12" LP of the same title. The coloring of #126 is reddish, just as in the LP, whereas the cover of #129 has been tinted yellow. In order to differentiate between the two EPs in this discography, I have taken the liberty of adding the sub-title Part 1 to the EP with the lower number, and the sub-title Part 2 to the EP with the higher number.

My sources give the title Chris to EPs #127, #130, and #114. All three EPs use the photo found in the 12" LP of the same title. Once again, coloring differentiates them: red (#114), yellow (#127), blue (#130).

Somewhat oddly, EP #130 contains three songs, rather than the standard four. There is a logical reason: those are the only three songs not included in the other Connor EPs discussed above. In other words, it is an album of leftovers. Two of its three numbers are from the This Is Chris sessions, whereas the remaining title ("Indian Summer") is from Connor's Bethlehem debut session.

Given the close numerical sequence of these four EPs (#126, 127, 129, 130), it would be logical to infer that Bethlehem's BEP #128 is also a Chris Connor issue. However, I have yet to find any verification that BEP 128 was ever produced, much less released. (Furthermore, the other nine EPs include Connor's entire output for Bethlehem. A 10th EP would thus have to re-use tracks found in the other extended play discs.) On a different note, it's worth adding herein that some online sellers occasionally claim to be selling a Chris Connor EP whose catalogue number is 1028. Judging from the instances which I have been able to doublecheck, the sellers are confusing the number 8 with the letter B: the EP in question is #102B, already mentioned above.


10) The London EP
11) The Parlophone EP
The present discographical page also lists two British EPs which have no American equivalents and which feature their own original covers. Chris Connor Meets J. and Kai (GEP 8767) shows a drawing of Chris Connor (face and shoulders), and of J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding, playing trombones. The Connor picture that graces the front cover of London's Girlfriends, Volume 2 (RE-N 1093) is another shot from the photo session that generated the artwork of the 12" LP Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland. Connor is wearing the same yellow shirt. The lighting on this particular shot happens to call attention to the blondness of her hair. It was taken from the distance (unlike the shot used for the 12" LP, which shows Connor's face at close range). For that reason, the EP's photograph reveals a detail not visible in the LP's image: Connor is actually standing near a tree. (See also the alternate shot used for LP BCP-6006 Bethlehem's Girlfriends.) I believe that I have seen pics of one or two other Bethlehem artists captured around similar scenery.


Date: April 1955, Later Date
Location: New York
Label: BETHLEHEM

Chris Connor (ldr), Creed Taylor (pdr), The Ralph Sharon Group (acc), Herbie Mann (f, ts), J. J. Johnson, Kai Winding (tb), Joe Puma (g), Milt Hinton (b), Ralph Sharon (p), Osie Johnson (d), Chris Connor (v)

a. Master From This Moment On - 2:28(Cole Porter)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-126 — This Is Chris {Part 1}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 4435 - P 4436 — Basic Music Library [4 songs from LP This Is Chris]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-20 — This Is Chris   (1955)
b. Alternate Take From This Moment On - 2:29(Cole Porter)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
c. Master The Thrill Is Gone - 2:45(Lew Brown, Ray Henderson)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-126 — This Is Chris {Part 1}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 4435 - P 4436 — Basic Music Library [4 songs from LP This Is Chris]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-20 — This Is Chris   (1955)
d. Master Someone To Watch Over Me - 3:09(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-129 — This Is Chris {Part 2}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 4435 - P 4436 — Basic Music Library [4 songs from LP This Is Chris]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-20 — This Is Chris   (1955)
e. Master I Concentrate On You - 3:28(Cole Porter)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-129 — This Is Chris {Part 2}   (1955)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 4435 - P 4436 — Basic Music Library [4 songs from LP This Is Chris]   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-20 — This Is Chris   (1955)
f. Master Don't Wait Up For Me - 2:33(Charles DeForest)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-127 — Chris {Part 2}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
London (10") LPHb N 1074 (United Kingdom) — Chris   (1957)
g. Alternate Take Don't Wait Up For Me - 2:41(Charles DeForest)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
h. Master A Good Man Is A Seldom Thing - 3:23(Charles DeForest)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-127 — Chris {Part 2}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
London (10") LPHb N 1074 (United Kingdom) — Chris   (1957)
i. Alternate Take A Good Man Is A Seldom Thing - 3:30(Charles DeForest)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)
j. Master Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) - 3:06(Bart Howard)
BETHLEHEM EPBEP-127 — Chris {Part 2}   (1955)
BETHLEHEM LPBCP-56 [reissued 1961] — Chris (aka The Rich Sound Of Chris Connor)   (1956)
London (10") LPHb N 1074 (United Kingdom) — Chris   (1957)
k. Alternate Take Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) - 3:06(Bart Howard)
EVIDENCE CD20-4011-2 — Chris ("Bethlehem Jazz Classic Series")   (1994)
Avenue Jazz Licensed CDR2 75988 — Chris   (2000)

Dating

The likelihood that eight Chris Connor performances were entered under one single session is very low. Though listed together in my sources, these songs are likelier to have been recorded over at least two sessions. The sessions could have been conducted on the same day, or over various days in April 1955. (Notice also that only the first four songs were included in the album This Is Chris. Even if this fact is by no means conclusive in and of itself, it certainly encourages the assumption that those first four songs might constitute one session, separate from the second batch of songs listed above.)


Bio-Discographical Notes: Chris Connor At Bethlehem Records (1953-1955)

I. The Arrival: Chris In Bethlehem

In June 1953, Chris Connor left behind her years as a big band singer. That month, due to exhaustion from life on the road, she quit her job as the female vocalist of The Stan Kenton Orchestra. The departure was amicable. Six months later, the former canary would make her first recording date as a solo artist.

After moving back for good to the New York-New Jersey area (where she had lived back in the late 1940s), she proceeded to acquire a manager. Monte Kay booked Connor as a solo act at the Birdland night club during the fall of 1953. After seeing one of Connor's appearances at the venue, Gus Wildi offered her a recording contract with his brand new label, Bethlehem. At that point in time, Bethlehem's catalogue consisted of a few pop singles, which had made no impact on the market. Connor says that Wildi "was looking for a star to boost his label, which was going under. On the spot he offered me a contract, and I agreed." She became the first jazz-oriented act signed to the roster. However, the singer's work for Bethlehem started not with a jazz date but with a pop session, for which she was backed by a big band ensemble (1953).

The following year, Wildi also hired Creed Taylor, who was then at the very beginning of his career as A&R man and producer. For an interview published at Jazz Wax, Taylor told Marc Myers that "in 1954, the label was on its last legs. They were still recording 78-rpms at a time when the 10-inch LP was coming in. I told them, There are 10-inch LPs out there and you guys have a singer who’s great named Chris Connor. She had already recorded for Bethlehem in December 1953 with Sy Oliver’s orchestra, but they didn't know what to do with her. In the summer of '54, I talked to Chris and found out she had vast knowledge of great songs that were hip and that she wanted to record them. I told Bethlehem to let me go in and produce the label's first 10-inch LP with her. I told them I was going to call it Lullaby of Birdland. They gave me the go ahead. Even though the company wasn’t in great shape, the owner had funds and realized it was a necessary investment."

"I told Chris," continued Taylor, "we should do her album with the Ellis Larkins’ trio. She loved the idea. So I called Ellis and booked the Fulton Recording Studios, at 80 West 40th St., across from Bryant Park. I knew Tom Dowd, the engineer there. I had met him at Birdland, and he was a very musical guy. So when Ellis and Chris came to the studio in early August, I sat in the booth with Tom and did what I do today. Chris and I had decided which songs to record in advance. The result was so terrific that a few weeks later we recorded her with the Vinnie Burke Quartet for another 10-inch LP. We also recorded an album in 1955 with Kai Winding and J.J. Johnson.

Taylor also talked at length about the promotional efforts that were made for the initial 10" album: "Once Chris recorded, I had to get the record on the radio. I listened to the radio a great deal then. So I went over to WNEW and WABC with a dub of the session and did on-air interviews. I also worked on point-of-sale efforts. When Lullabys of Birdland came out, I had a big six-foot high cutout of Chris standing in front of Birdland to promote the album. I also brought special copies to radio stations that allowed radio announcers [such as WINS' Bob Garrity] to dub in their voices, so it sounded like they were announcing her [at Birdland] ... I reached out to radio stations popular with black audiences. The disc jockeys there knew which jazz records were great and which weren't. Their audiences and other jockeys in the city knew that what they played often set the trend. I became friendly with many of these jockeys. They, in turn, were friends with jockeys who broadcast during drive-time hours, which had the largest audiences. Fortunately they thought Chris' album was very hip. I asked if they would talk to the other jockeys and get them to play the album, and they did. I had to become friendly with record distributors and store buyers and merchandisers. Through all of these combined efforts, Lullabys of Birdland became something of a hit for Bethlehem. But none of my efforts would have paid off if the album hadn’t been superb to begin with."

Thus Wildi's Bethlehem company debuted its album series with the twin releases Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland and Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers. Together, those 10" albums constituted a career-making success for both the emerging record label and the solo recording artist.

After the commercial success of the jazz-oriented Lullabys [sic] albums, Connor's other dates for the label continued to use combos (trio, quartet/quintet, septet) rather than big band accompaniment, and the repertoire was culled chiefly from the Great American Songbook.

This discographical page shows that Chris Connor recorded a total of 35 masters for Bethlehem Records. As the page also shows, they have been issued and reissued ad nauseam.

The time period that Connor spent with the Bethlehem company was a successful but short one: less than a year and a half. For general details about the termination of Connor's relationship with Bethlehem Records, see the final note on this page.


II. The Bethlehem Record Company

The Bethlehem label has a byzantine issue history. Over the decades, multiple changes in ownership have resulted in numerous reissues and re-pressings of the catalogue. The earliest of those ownership changes took place toward the end of the 1950s. Around 1960, founder Gus Wildi had to sell the label to his distributor, Syd Nathan, who owned and managed various labels of less-than-stellar quality. (The main one was King, which concentrated on hillbilly music for a few years, before moving on to rhythm & blues, with significant success. Another one was DeLuxe, which Nathan co-owned at first, but eventually bought in its entirety. AudioLab, too. Then there were King's subsidiaries, Queen and Federal, as well as other small labels whose catalogues Nathan bought and absorbed into his main label.) Nathan moved the label's offices to his hometown (Cincinnatti), where he had his own printing press. Thereafter, all sort of cheap-looking Bethlehem LP re-pressings made appearances in the music market.

Once Nathan passed away (1968), his labels were re-sold. At the time of this writing, the full succession of Bethlehem label owners is suitably covered in a Wikipaedia page.

From a discographical standpoint, Bethlehem's catalogue numbers can be an endless source of confusion. As re-pressings and compilations kept appearing, the same catalogue numbers were re-assigned to entirely different issues. For instance, Bethlehem 6010 is the catalogue number of not only the The Voice Of Audrey Morris (an original album released in 1956) but also Cocktails And Dusk (a 1978 reissue of the 1955 LP This Is Chris).

The label's extant Chris Connor alternate takes are problematic as well. Close listening suggests that the majority of such so-called alternates are instead edits of the previously issued masters, or otherwise exact replicas of them, with bits of studio talk occasionally included. This allegation was never confirmed by the record labels themselves, however, and hence the subject matter remains open for debate. For that reason, this discography dutifully lists all the alleged Bethlehem alternates that have been commercially issued (a 13 total).


III. Connor's Original Bethlehem Albums (Chronology & Statistics)

As already mentioned, Chris Connor's earliest original albums for Bethlehem were a pair of 10" LPs entitled Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland and Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers. Both were released in 1954 and both contained songs recorded in August of that year. (The songs in those 10" LPs were also issued in a quartet of EPs. Furthermore, a few of the songs were issued on singles, too. For comments about Connor's EPs, see notes under session dated April 1955, Earlier Date.)

Aside from the Lullabys items, Bethlehem's most significant Chris Connor issues were a trio of 12" LPs, which I'll briefly describe below.

This Is Chris, Connor's first twelve-inch LP, had already been released by early October of 1955, when it was reviewed on a trade magazine. The release consisted of brand new numbers that had been recorded in April of that year.

Chris, the second twelve-inch LP, made its commercial appearance in or around June of 1956, by which time the singer was no longer recording for this label. It contained:

a) 4 previously unissued songs, all of them from the 1955 This Is Chris sessions.
b) 8 songs that had previously issued on EP (all eight of them) and also on 10" LP (six of them).

Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland, the third twelve-inch LP, was released in November of 1956. This album compiles 14 numbers, which can be categorized as follows:

a) 11 tracks came from the singer's two 10" Lullabys albums. (Those 10" albums contained 8 songs each. Hence, 5 songs were excluded from the 12" LP.)

b) 3 tracks were culled from Connor's debut Bethlehem session. (All three of them had been previously issued on 78 and EP, but not on 10" or 12" LP.)

The 12" LP under discussion is therefore a partial reissue of Connor's two 10" albums; It misses five tracks of 16 cuts on those earlier items. The probable reasons for the exclusion of the five numbers: in addition to matters of insufficient space in one long-playing vinyl, the quintet had already been issued in 12" LP format (as part of the aforementioned LP Chris).


IV. Discographical Parameters For The Three Original Bethlehem LPs (Technical Note)

Both in the United States and abroad, Chris Connor's trio of 12" LPs for Bethlehem (Chris, Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland, This Is Chris) has been endlessly issued and reissued, pressed and re-pressed. For those three albums, I have tried to enforce the following policies:

1) In the case of LPs, I have included only the original domestic issues.

2) In the case of CDs, I have included only the two main (and, to date, last) series of domestic reissues, one series being from the Evidence label, and the other from the (Rhino-distributed) label Avenue Jazz. Any earlier domestic series may be included in upcoming updates of the discography. (Contributors' information about those earlier CD issues would be appreciated.)

3) In this discography, Japanese or European CD issues have not been included. Exceptions have been made only for a few noteworthy or collectible items, such as Japanese CDs without US counterparts, or issues with alternate tracks that ate not found in releases from the United States. (For further comments about Japanese issues, see notes in this discography's page for Discographical And Technical Policies.)

The above-listed policies have not been extended to compilations of Bethlehem material. When it came to anthologies or compilations, my aim was different. I aimed at including all existent anthologies (irrespective of country of origin, or resemblance to American counterparts), and at accounting for all the tracks on them.

As for the many reissues that have been excluded from this page (per the policies above), I have not altogether ignored them. They are summarily listed on a different page: the Issues Index, under each of Connor's three original Bethlehem 12" LPs. (The index has been chronologically ordered by release date. Connor's trio of LPs came out between 1955 and late 1956.)

Corrections and further assistance from owners of Bethlehem shellac and vinyl copies will be appreciated.


V. Chris Connor's Departure From Bethlehem

Around the time when her contract was up for renewal, Chris Connor fully stopped doing any further recording work for Bethlehem. The singer had received another contract offer, from Atlantic Records, which she had accepted. Having already fulfilled her contractual quota, the singer was no longer willing to answer to any requests from Bethlehem.

For its part, Bethlehem (perhaps misinformed about their artist's departure, or perhaps unhappy with her decision) sent out an unappreciative press release, and put its legal department to work. The July 13, 1955 issue of Downbeat magazine gave the following account: "Bethlehem Records suspended its leading star, Chris Connor, as of June 1. She was suspended because, the firm said, she refused to record more than the minimum number of sides guaranteed in her contract. The label says it also may add the time Chris is suspended to the length of her regular contract. Thereby, Bethlehem adds, Chris' contract, which ends this December, could be extended by the length of time she is under suspension and during that period, she could record for no other company. Monte Kay, Chris' manager, denies Bethlehem's claims and says that Chris, in fact, has recorded more than the minimum number of sides. He added further that the registered letter the label says it mailed Chris concerning the mater has not yet been received. When he is formally notified, Kay adds, he will turn the matter over to his attorney. Kay implied that in view of the company's action, it is quite unlikely that Chris will re-sign with Bethlehem when her contract is up."

The June 11 issue of Billboard had already reported on the same matter, providing the same basic details, albeit in something of a more eye-opening manner. A sample, from a news article with a June 4 byline: "[i]n an action unprecedented in the recording field, tho common in the motion picture world, Bethlehem Records yesterday 'suspended' its contract vocalist, Chris Connor. Whether or not the suspension sticks is now a matter for arbitration by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. {clip} According to Bethlehem's attorney, Louis Randell, Miss Connor has refused to record more than the minimum of sides guaranteed in her contract and already recorded. her contract with the diskery is binding until the end of this year. The suspension practice, as employed by the film companies, allows the contract-holding companies to extend the existing contract for a length of time equal to the suspension period. For example, if Miss Connor remains suspended until the expiration of her regular pact, she would remain Bethlehem's property until August, 1956. According to Randell, the thrush would be unable to sign with another label until that time, and all other companies will be put on notice to that effect. {clip} The jazz singer's Bethlehem contract called for a minimum of 24 sides in two years. Her two LP's have been the diskery's sales leaders for some months."

The January 28, 1956 issue of Billboard would go on to report that, on the week of January 21, Atlantic Records had "expanded its jazz wing with eight new artists. This diskery's biggest coup, instigated by its package department vicepresident, Nesuhi Ertegun, was the snaring of thrush Chris Connor and the Modern Jazz Quartet, whom a number of companies are known to have entered bids ... Miss Connor had been with Bethlehem Records, and had been the label's consistent top seller."

The singer would indeed record her debut Atlantic sessions during the second half of January 1956. Her first album on the label would begin to be advertised two or three months later (e.g., April 29, 1956 issue of Billboard magazine.)


Sessions Reported: 5

Performances Reported: 50

Unique Songs Reported: 35

Unique Issues Reported: 93