Beverly Kenney

"Tea For Two"

Beverly Kenney photo by Chuck Stewart
Photo by Chuck Stewart, courtesy SSJ Records.

From the album
Snuggled On Your Shoulder, SSJ Records [Japan], 2006. Reissued by Cellar Door Records [USA], 2010.

Beverly Kenney "Sunuggled On Your Shoulder"

 

1950’s lady jazz vocalist Beverly Kenney looked like she had it all going for her.  She had performed with many of the jazz greats of her day, and was even part of the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra for a time. The musicians and artists in New York City’s Greenwich Village scene respected her musical talent, and jazz fans from the period perceived her to be an heir apparent to Billie Holiday.  She had even appeared on national television, rounding out a May 18, 1958 episode of The Steve Allen Show, and a Christmas edition of Playboy's Penthouse. But on the evening of April 13, 1960, this promising and lovable vocalist committed suicide by ingesting a lethal mixture of Seconal and alcohol.  She was only 28 years old.

To this day, jazz enthusiasts still ask amongst themselves: why did she do it?  It’s a question that we still don’t have a complete answer to.  What we do have is a body of recordings that provide a whole new way to hear the vocal jazz genre.  Her masterpiece is Beverly Kenney Sings for Playboys (1958), an almost perfect, heart-wrenching album that everyone who loves Vintage music needs to own. Coming in at a very close second is the orchestral follow-up Born to Be Blue (1958).

Our song, “Tea For Two,” is the opening track of a compilation initially only available in Japan entitled Snuggled On Your Shoulder (2006). Most of the tracks on Snuggled On Your Shoulder, including "Tea For Two", were initially part of a full length demonstration tape recorded in approximately 1954 with pianist Tony Tamburello accompanying Beverly.

Snuggled on Your Shoulder has continued to grow in popularity and has received two more reissues since its 2006 debut. It was reissued in the US in 2010 as a private issue expanded edition with another four unreleased tracks (radio broadcast versions of "Surrey With the Fringe On Top", "Violets For Your Furs", "Mountain Greenery", and "Almost Like Being in Love"). It was then released again in Spain along with the radio bonus tracks as part of Fresh Sound Records' 2012 compilation The Complete Royal Roost Recordings, which also contains the first three Beverly Kenney LP's Sings For Johnny Smith, Come Swing With Me, and Sings With Jimmy Jones and the Basie-ites on one 2-CD set. The Complete Royal Roost Recordings is available in the US from Amazon.com, in the UK from Amazon.co.uk, and in Continental Europe from Fresh Sound Records' website.

Beverly Kenney "The Complete Decca Recordings" (2012)

The essential and highly recommended Beverly Kenney compilation The Complete Decca Recordings (Fresh Sound Records, 2012).

Fresh Sound Records also released the 2-CD compilation The Complete Decca Recordings in 2012 alongside The Complete Royal Roost Recordings. It is an absolute treasure trove of great music and probably one of the more essential jazz purchases one could make. We recommend it as your first Beverly Kenney purchase. The Complete Decca Recordings features the following:

• Beverly Kenney Sings For Playboys, Born to Be Blue,
and Like Yesterday (her last three albums) in their entirety;
• The non-LP Decca single "The Magic Touch" b/w "Your Love is my Love";
• An outtake from the Born To Be Blue sessions ("You Couldn't Be Cuter");
• Four outtakes from BK Sings for Playboys ("Brooklyn Love Song", "Time Was / It's So Peaceful", "What's It Like In Paris", and "Sing a Little Rainbow");
• BK's complete SESAC sessions (previously gathered together on the posthumous album Lonely and Blue);
• The audio for her appearance on Playboy's Penthouse c. Christmas 1958 ("Everything Happens to Me", "Mountain Greenery", "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", and an impromptu duet singing "Makin' Whoopee" with none other than Hugh Hefner);
• The audio of BK's performance of "I Hate Rock and Roll" on The Steve Allen Show; and
• A live orchestral version of "What is There to Say?"

The Complete Decca Recordings is available in the US from Amazon.com, in the UK from Amazon.co.uk, and in Continental Europe from Fresh Sound Records' website.

If you buy The Complete Decca Recordings and The Complete Royal Roost Recordings, and add the Japanese rarities compilation What Is There To Say? (2009; currently out of print :-( ), you will have a complete collection of Beverly Kenney's music. Just be forewarned that after listening to Beverly Kenney, you may never be able to hear vocal jazz the same way again. 

 

Beverly Kenney Discography:


Beverly Kenney Sings for Johnny Smith
(Roost Records, 1955)
“Surrey with the Fringe on Top” b/w “This Little Town in Paris” (Royal Roost, 1956) (both tracks are on Beverly Kenney Sings for Johnny Smith)
Come Swing With Me (Roost Records, 1956)
Beverly Kenney with Jimmy Jones and the Basie-ites (Roost Records, 1957)
Beverly Kenney Sings For Playboys (Decca Records, 1958)
"The Magic Touch" b/w "Your Love is My Love" (Decca Records, 1958) (non-LP single; both tracks are unavailable elsewhere)
Born to Be Blue (Decca Records, 1959)
Like Yesterday (Decca Records, 1959)
Snuggled On Your Shoulder (SSJ Records [Japan], 2006; reissued with four bonus tracks by Cellar Door Records [USA], 2010)
Lonely and Blue (SSJ Records [Japan], 2007)
What Is There To Say? (SSJ Records [Japan], 2009)
The Complete Royal Roost Recordings (Fresh Sound Records [Spain], 2012)
The Complete Decca Recordings (Fresh Sound Records [Spain], 2012)


Compilation Apprearances:

Various Artists: My Silent Love (Capitol [Japan], 1991)
Features "Violets For My Furs" from Come Swing With Me

Various Artists: The Great Jazz Vocalists Sing The Gershwin Songbook (Capitol Jazz, 1992)
Features "It Ain't Necessarily So" from Come Swing With Me

Various Artists: When Love Goes Wrong: Songs For the Broken Hearted (Verve Records, 2003)
Also Released as Jazz For Broken Hearts on Jazz Club/Verve [Germany] in 2007 with different artwork
Features "A Woman's Intuition" from Beverly Kenney Sings For Playboys

Various Artists: Singin', Swingin', Jazzin (SSJ Records [Japan], 2008)
Features "Lonely and Blue" from Lonely and Blue and "There Will Never Be Another You" from Snuggled On Your Shoulder