!-- Chris Connor Bio-Discography - The Big Band Singer Period
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The Chris Connor Bio-Discography:
Connor's Years As A Big Band Singer

by Iván Santiago Mercado

Page generated on May 13, 2021


The present page covers Chris Connor's earliest years of recording activity, which took place while she served as the big band vocalist for three orchestras (Claude Thornhill's, Jerry Wald's, Stan Kenton's). In addition to the session work, the page also offers a general account of the singer's work with such bands. As for singing activities carried out by Connor before her debut in the recording studio (January 6, 1949), basic details are offered in one of this discography's miscellaneous pages (Pre-Recording Years, 1927-1948).

Date: 1/6/49
Location: New York

The Claude Thornhill Orchestra (ldr), Claude Thornhill (con, p), Danny Polo, Jerry Therkeld (cl, as), Drew Moore, Mario Rollo (ts), Bill Bushey (bar), John Carisi, John Napton, Gene Roland (t), Leon Cox, Allan Langstaff (tb), Addison Collins, Arthur Sussman (frh), Barry Galbraith (g), Joe Shulman (b), William Exiner (d), Chris Connor, The Snowflakes (v)

a. D9-VB-0048Master I Don't Know Why - 3:15(Roy Turk, Fred E. Ahlert) / arr: Claude Thornhill
RCA VICTOR 7820-3392 — {I Don't Know Why [vocal] / Lullaby Of The Rain [Thornhill instrumental]}   (1949)
b. D9-BV-0049Master There's A Small Hotel - 3:01(Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) / arr: Gil Evans
RCA VICTOR 7820-3391 — {There's A Small Hotel [vocal] / Sleepy Serenade [Thornhill instrumental}   (1949)
RCA VICTOR's Camden LPCAL-307 — [Claude Thornhill] Dinner For Two   (1958)
Both titles on:
Fresh Sound Collectors' Label LPFSR NL-46030 (Spain) — [Claude Thornhill] Snowfall   (1972)
Ajazz Collectors' Label LPAjaz 274 — [Claude Thornhill] Claude Thornhill In Disco Order, Volume 10   
RCA VICTOR LPNL 46030 — [Claude Thornhill] Snowfall   

Masters & Dating

Chris Connor's participation in this session was not as a solo vocalist but as a member of The Snowflakes, a choral group that was part of The Claude Thornhill Orchestra. In "I Don't Know Why," the group sings the entire vocal as an unit, without any soloing from individual members. In "There Is A Small Hotel," Connor is heard both as part of the group and, briefly, solo.

During an interview conducted in the early 2000s, Connor was asked to comment about her studio work with Claude Thornhill and his orchestra. Oddly, she could not recall ever going to the recording studio with the bandleader, nor with his choral group. Of course, the passing of well over 50 years can make any lapse in memory understandable. But there is another possible -- and more conciliatory -- explanation: could it be that this session's performances originated in a radio broadcast which RCA transcribed for commercial release? Unfortunately, I am not able to answer this question beyond the realm of the hypothetical. The documentation at hand does not provide any clarification -- neither in the affirmative nor in the negative. Were the question ever to be confidently answered in the affirmative, a corollary to the answer would be the identification of January 6, 1949 as the date on which master numbers were assigned by RCA, rather than the date in which the numbers were actually performed on the radio.

Connor publicly discussed the subject once again a few years later (2006), for an interview conducted over the phone and eventually published in a Japanese magazine. The vocalist gave the interviewer an answer partially different to the one stated above. She said that her first recording with Thornhill had been with his "exclusive choir" in January 1949, and that the title of the recording was "Snowflakes" [sic]. I believe that she offered that piece of information not because she had finally remembered going to the studio, but rather because she had recently received a copy of one of the above-listed albums, and had heard herself in the track "There's A Small Hotel". (As for the magazine article's misidentification of the track as "Snowflakes," I do not know if the error was Connor's, or if something was lost in transcription/translation.)

On a different note, collectors might want to be aware that this session's versions of "I Don't Know Why" and "There's A Small Hotel" are not the only extant ones from the choral group. Years earlier, on July 24, 1942, an earlier edition of The Snowflakes had also recorded both songs. Back then Chris Connor was not a member of the group, however.

Still further, the two songs were reprised by The Snowflakes for a third time, as part of a couple of sessions conducted six months after the date under discussion. Those July 1949 sessions were made not for RCA but for Thesaurus, a radio transcription service. The basic arrangements heard in the January 1949 masters were re-used, including the solo spot in "There's a Small Hotel" that is sung by Chris Connor. Nevertheless, the unidentified soloist heard in this transcription version is not Connor. (She did not stay long during this stint with Thornhill -- the first of three, all of them occuring between 1949 and 1953. Although the exact date of her departure is unknown, July or earlier is certainly a possibility.) Aside from the different solo singer, there are also various instrumental variations between the respective January and July recordings.


1. The 1948 Transcription Performances (Hep CD 17, released in 1994)
2. The Song Is You (Hep LP 17, released in 1980)

The two above-listed items are Claude Thornhill issues released by the British label Hep. The first is a digital reissue of the second. They contain performances of "There's A Small Hotel" and "I Don't Know Why," both sung by The Snowflakes. However -- and as suggested by the first of the titles -- the versions heard in these items are the aforementioned Thesaurus transcriptions, which bear no aural traces of Connor's involvement. In other words, neither Hep issue contains the January 6, 1949 versions on which Connor participated.

(Additional note of marginal interest. Whereas Charles Garrod's discography of Claude Thornhill gives a July 1949 date to those Thesaurus transcriptions, Hep assigns a different, collective 1948 dating to them. The Hep date is not highly likely: a musicians' recording ban was in effect for nearly all of 1948. Although I am not certain that the ban fully extended to transcription recording, the Garrod date strikes me as likeliest one to be accurate. In any case, this subject matter is of no major relevance to this discography, as there is no indication of Connor's presence during the recording of the transcriptions.)

Sources And Personnel

1. Personnel Discrepancies
Only two of my sources list personnel for this session: Ajazz Lp 274 and Fresh Sound Lp Nl 46030. These sources are not in full agreement.

During the earlier years of this discography, I listed the personnel as given by Ajazz LP 274:

The Claude Thornhill Orchestra (ldr), Claude Thornhill (con, p), Danny Polo, Jerry Therkeld (cl, as), Drew Moore, Mario Rollo (ts), Bill Bushey (bar), John Carisi, John Napton, Gene Roland (t), Leon Cox, Allan Langstaff (tb), Addison Collins, Arthur Sussman (frh), Barry Galbraith (g), Joe Shulman (b), William Exiner (d), Chris Connor, The Snowflakes (v)

Having recently obtained a copy of Fresh Sound Lp Nl 46030, I am now listing that source's personnel, which Fresh Sound obtained from RCA's own archives. (During its early years, the Spanish label Fresh Sound was an official licensee of RCA. This particular LP includes an insert that reads as follows: "Some of the tunes in this album have come from the original RCA Victor test-pressings and you will notice a slight surface noise. Unfortunately, the master copies have long since been unavailable.") Fresh Sound lists the session's musicians, instruments, recording date, city, matrix number, and song titles.

Listed only by Ajaz are the arrangers. Hence I have tentatively entered the arrangers' names as supplied by Ajaz (a collectors' label with no known ties to major labels).

2. The Snowflakes
According to Fresh Sound LP Nl 46030, at the time of this session the members of The Snowflakes were J. Orr, J. Eich, Art Brown, Chris Connor, and M. L. Eyre. For more extensive commentary about this group (including a different list of names for what might have been a later edition of the group), consult the note at the end of this page.

Date: 4/17/52
Label: DECCA

Jerry Wald and His Orchestra (ldr), Jerry Wald (con, cl), Herb Geller, Sam Zittman (as), Buddy Arnold (ts), George Berg, Eddie Caine (bar), Al Derisi, Al Porcino, Dick Sherman, Al Stewart (t), Jack Hitchcock, Sonny Russo (tb), Billy Bauer (g), Eddie Safranski (b), Jack Kelly (p), Don Lamond (d), Chris Connor (v)

a. 82694Master You're The Cream In My Coffee - 2:34(Lew Brown, Buddy G. DeSylva, Ray Henderson)
DECCA 78 & 4528203 / 9-28203 — {You're The Cream In My Coffee / Cherokee}   (1952)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 2719 - P 2720 — Basic Music Library [4 Jerry Wald numbers, 2 of them with Chris Connor]   (1952)
DECCA©MCA LP3149 (Japan) — [Various Artists] The Great Jazz Singers With The Great Big Band   
b. 82696Master Cherokee - 2:39(Ray Noble)
DECCA 78 & 4528203 / 9-28203 — {You're The Cream In My Coffee / Cherokee}   (1952)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 2719 - P 2720 — Basic Music Library [4 Jerry Wald numbers, 2 of them with Chris Connor]   (1952)
c. 82697Master Pennies From Heaven - 3:04(Johnny Burke, Arthur Johnston)
DECCA 78 & 4529575 & 9-29575 — {Pennies From Heaven / Raisins And Almonds}   (1952)
DECCA©MCA LP3149 (Japan) — [Various Artists] The Great Jazz Singers With The Great Big Band   
d. 82698Master Raisins and Almonds - 2:54(Bobby Day, Maurice Sigler)
DECCA 78 & 4529575 & 9-29575 — {Pennies From Heaven / Raisins And Almonds}   (1952)
e. 82699Master Terremoto - 2:32(Sherm Feller)
DECCA 78 & 4528554 & 9-28554 — {Terremoto [vocal] / The Thrill Is Gone [Wald instrumental]}   (1952)

Masters & Connor's Performance

Chris Connor sings lyrics on "You're The Cream In My Coffee," "Pennies From Heaven," and "Raisins And Almonds." On both "Cherokee" and "Terremoto," she wordlessly vocalizes the melody (very briefly towards the end of "Cherokee," and also very briefly at the beginning of "Terremoto").


According to an article published on the June 4, 1952 issue of Down Beat magazine, "Jerry Wald's first record, under a new Decca deal, is due out momentarily. His first wax pact with a big band, years ago, was with the same label." The June 7, 1952 issue of Billboard magazine reviews this so-called first new Decca record: the "Cherokee / You Are The Cream Of My Coffee" single.

Chris Connor is credited on both sides of Decca single #28203. "You're The Cream Of My Coffee" is called a fox trot by Jerry Wald And His Orchestra with "vocal chorus by Chris Connors." The "Cherokee" side is labeled an instrumental fox trot featuring "the clarinets of Jerry Wald, the voice of Chris Connors, with rhythm." (The final s in Connor's name was also used in some of her subsequent singles with Stan Kenton And His Orchestra.)

Date: December 1952
Label: Decca?

In Garrod's discography of The Claude Thornhill Orchestra, Chris Connor is listed as part of the personnel present at a studio session held in December of 1952. Unfortunately, Garrod does not list the session's songs -- nor, for that matter, any other details, besides the 1952 dating. I have not come across any corroboration of Connor's alleged participation in this date. Garrod's claim should thus be deemed tentative.

Date: 2/11/53
Location: Capitol Melrose Studios, Hollywood, Ca
Capitol Session #2923

The Stan Kenton Orchestra (ldr), Lee Gillette (pdr), Vinnie Dean, Lee Konitz (as), Bill Holman, Richie Kamuca (ts), Bob Gioga (bar), Conte Candoli, Walter "Pete" Candoli, Marion "Buddy" Childers, Don Dennis, Maynard Ferguson, Ruben McFall (t), Bob Burgess, Keith Moon, Frank Rosolino, Bill Russo (tb), George Roberts (bt), Sal Salvador (g), Donald "Don" Bagley (b), Stan Kenton (p), Stan Levey (d), Harry DeAlmeida (tam), Chris Connor (v), The Stan Kenton Orchestra (bkv)

a. 11115-25Master And The Bull Walked Around, Olé! - 2:39(Joe Greene, Doug Neal, Betsy Ellis) / arr: Bill Russo
CAPITOL 78 & 452388 & F 2388 — {And The Bull Walked Around, Olé! / Jeepers Creepers}   (1953)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 2795 - P 2796 — Basic Music Library [4 Stan Kenton numbers, 2 of them with Chris Connor]   (1953)
Creative World Licensed LPCW ST-1050 — [Stan Kenton] The Lighter Side   (1972)
Ajazz Collectors' Label LPAjaz C-1618 — [Stan Kenton] Stan Kenton In Disco Order, Volume 15   
b. 11116-7Master Jeepers Creepers - 2:16(Harry Warren, Johnny Mercer) / arr: Bill Russo
CAPITOL 78 & 452388 & F 2388 — {And The Bull Walked Around, Olé! / Jeepers Creepers}   (1953)
Armed Forces Radio Service 16" Transcription DiscP 2795 - P 2796 — Basic Music Library [4 Stan Kenton numbers, 2 of them with Chris Connor]   (1953)
Creative World Licensed LPCW ST-1029 — [Stan Kenton] Some Women I've Known   (1971)
c. 11120Master If I Should Lose You - 2:38(Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin) / arr: Bill Russo
Creative World Licensed LPCW ST-1066 — [Stan Kenton] By Request, Volume 5   (1972)
Book Of The Month Licensed CS/LPBM 91-7573/81-7572 — [Stan Kenton] Stan Kenton   (1985)
CAPITOL©Toshiba-EMI CDTOCJ-5651-5655 (Japan) — [Stan Kenton] The Creative World Of Stan Kenton   (1991)
All titles on:
Mosaic Licensed LP/CDMR6-136 / MD4-136 — [Stan Kenton] The Complete Capitol Recordings Of The Holman And Russo Charts   (1991)
Giants Of Jazz/Promo Public Domain CD53230 (Italy) — All About Ronnie ("Giants of Jazz" Series)   (1996)
Giants Of Jazz/Promo Public Domain CD53240 (Italy) — [Stan Kenton] Jazz Ladies & Stan Kenton   (1996)
CAPITOL LPECJ-50075 (Japan) — [Stan Kenton] Girls & Kenton   

The Recording Session

An article published on the April 8, 1953 issue of Down Beat gave the following news to the magazine's readership: "Chris Connor is Stan Kenton's newest vocal find. Her first assignment after Stan called her and asked her to join the band was a recording session, at which Kenton's newest release, Jeepers Creepers and The Bull Walked Around Olay was cut. At this time, Chris knew only one man in the band, had talked to Kenton only once before, and had never heard the arrangements she was about to sing. Yet she did a splendid job on the session, had even the members excited about her singing."

During an interview published in the May 2007 issue of Swing Journal, Connor was asked to talk about the day in which she first recorded a song that would become one of her trademark numbers, All About Ronnie. "It was the same day when I was introduced to the members of the Kenton Orchestra in the recording studio," she answered, "that I was given the music. When I walked into the studio, they were just preparing to record the famous City Of Glass. As soon as the recording finished, they showed the music for All About Ronnie. The composer of the song, Joe Greene, was there in the studio, and I was lectured about the song for about an hour. Then, there was a rehearsal, and I had to record the song. Somehow, I managed to finish recording it. The song later became my signature song. At that time, the band was comprised of 22 musicians. All wonderful young musicians, Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino, Lee Konitz, Bill Holman, Stan Levey. It was like a dream come true for me to sing in a great band like that."


The masters numbered 11115 and 11116 were recorded between 8:45 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. Master number 11120 was recorded (along with master number 11119, an instrumental) between 12:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.

Arrangements (And Vocalists)

1. "Jeepers Creepers"
2. Kay Brown
3. Jerri Winters
4. Helen Carr
As a newcomer to the band, Connor had to work with arrangements whose vocal parts had been originally conceived with her predecessors in mind. For instance, the vocals parts of the above-listed "Jeepers Creepers" had been initially arranged for Kay Brown. The same state of affairs applied to some of the numbers that Connor sang live but did not record, such as "Taking A Chance On Love." In addition to Kay Brown's, Connor also inherited arrangements written for Jerri Winters ("All About Ronnie") and Helen Carr ("Everything Happens To Me"). Incidentally, one number that all four canaries (Jerri Winters, Helen Carr, Kay Brown, Chris Connor) sang while with Kenton was "Don't Worry 'Bout Me."


1. Harry DeAlmeida
2. Background Vocals
Both De Almeida's tambourine and the background vocals (by the orchestra's musicians) are heard only during "And The Bull Walked Around, Olé!"

Songs And Cross-references

1. "All About Ronnie"
For the master of "All About Ronnie" that was originally issued by Capitol, see next session.

2. "And The Bull Walked Around, Olé"
The novelty "And The Bull Walked Around, Olé!" became a vocal hit for The Stan Kenton Orchestra. (Billboard's Joel Whitburn [gu]es[s]timates that the single peaked at number 30.)

The song's exact official title is in question. The Kenton score (at North Texas University, Denton, Texas) calls it simply "The Bull Walked Around." Most issues, including the original Capitol single, name it "And The Bull Walked Around, Olay!" The word "olay" is obviously a misspelling of the Spanish interjection "olé," employed by bullfighters in the arena. In this discography, I have decided to use the correct spelling, instead of copying the misspelling found elsewhere.

Blue Arrows (A Technical Note)

Periodically found through this page are blue arrowheads; click on them if you want to see a longer list of albums containing any given Chris Connor performance.)

Date: 4/8/53
Location: Universal Studios, Chicago
Session #2988

The Stan Kenton Orchestra (ldr), Vinnie Dean, Lee Konitz (as), Bill Holman, Richie Kamuca (ts), Henry "Hank" Levy (bar), Conte Candoli, Marion "Buddy" Childers, Don Dennis, Ernie Royal, Don Smith (t), Bob Burgess, Keith Moon, Frank Rosolino, Tom Shepard (tb), George Roberts (bt), Sal Salvador (g), Glen Roberts (b), Stan Kenton (p), Stan Levey (d), Chris Connor (v)

a. 11352-9Master All About Ronnie - 2:50(Joe Greene) / arr: Bill Russo
Mosaic Licensed LP/CDMR6-136 / MD4-136 — [Stan Kenton] The Complete Capitol Recordings Of The Holman And Russo Charts   (1991)
Smithsonian Licensed CDRD-102 — [Various Artists] Swing That Music! The Big Bands, The Soloists, And The Singers (1929-1956)   (1993)
Le Chant Du Monde CD574 1311.20 (France) — [Various Artists] André Francis Et Jean Schwarz ‎Présentent L'Histoire Du Jazz Vocal, Part 2 (1941 - 1953)   (2004)
CAPITOL LPECJ-50075 (Japan) — [Stan Kenton] Girls & Kenton   
b. 11353Master Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen - 3:10(Traditional) / arr: Bill Russo
c. 11354-6Master Baia - 2:47(Ary Barroso) / arr: Bill Russo
CAPITOL 78 & 452511 & F 2511 — {All About Ronnie / Baia}   (1953)
CAPITOL EP /(10" & 12") LPsEBF/H/T-462 — [Stan Kenton] Portraits On Standards   (1953)
Creative World Licensed LPCW ST-1042 — [Stan Kenton] Portraits On Standards   (1971)
Mosaic Licensed LP/CDMR6-136 / MD4-136 — [Stan Kenton] The Complete Capitol Recordings Of The Holman And Russo Charts   (1991)
CAPITOL©EMI's Blue Note CD31571 — [Stan Kenton] Portraits On Standards   (2001)
Ajazz Collectors' Label LPAjaz C-1618 — [Stan Kenton] Stan Kenton In Disco Order, Volume 15   

The Recording Of "All About Ronnie"

In an interview for his music blog JazzWax, Chris Connor told the following to Marc Myers: "During an April recording date, our second studio session, Joe Greene, the songwriter, was there. He had written this song he wanted me to sing. I had never heard the song before. The band rehearsed me for about an hour. Then Stan told me the band was going to record it. I thought I was going to die. I didn't know how I was going to get through that song. But I did, and All About Ronnie turned out pretty good." (Incidentally, this was a busy day for Connor and the rest of The Stan Kenton Orchestra. On the evening, they also made a concert appearance; see page dedicated to Concert, Radio & Television, under sessions dated March 27 to April 9, 1953.)

Greene and Kenton had actually been trying to issue a version of "All About Ronnie" for a while. In fact, the bandleader had recorded his earliest studio version more than a year earlier, on March 20, 1952. Jerri Winters was the featured vocalist of that version, which was left unissued. (The March 20, 1952 session was Winters' very last one with the band.)

This April 8, 1953 version was left unissued too. The master that Capitol and Kenton chose for release as a single comes instead from his next session (May 25, 1953). The single became a non-charting radio hit for Connor and the orchestra.

More importantly, "All About Ronnie" remains the number most often associated with the singer. As a solo artist, her best known version of "All About Ronnie is the one that she made for Bethlehem Records, during the session(s) dated August 9-11, 1954. Atlantic Records taped a live version, too -- at the Village Vanguard, on September 6, 1959. Of course, Connor also sang "All About Ronnie" live with the Kenton orchestra on numerous occasions, as shown in this discography's Concert, Radio & Television page, under the year 1953.

In 1995, Connor was asked which songs, out of those that she had recorded up to that time, were her favorite ones. Not surprisingly, the vocalist singled out All About Ronnie and Lush Life. "To tell you the truth," she added, "I still enjoy All About Ronnie after forty years because it has great changes and great lyrics."

Songs And Masters

1. "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen"
According to Michael Sparke and Peter Venudor in their discography Stan Kenton: The Studio Sessions, this performance of "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" exists only in a Capitol reference acetate; a master tape has not been found. In their book, Sparke & Venudor give a 2:59 timing to the performance, but the advances of more modern technology place the timing at 3:10.

2. "Baia"
In the label of Capitol 2511, "Baia" is credited as an instrumental, not as a vocal. The reason for the omission of a vocal credit is probably that Chris Connor is heard only scatting or humming the melody, and very briefly. The single's flip side ("All About Ronnie") credits not only Stan Kenton And His Orchestra but also "Chris Connors."

3. "I Get A Kick Out Of You"
According to some sources, including Capitol LP 20244 (The Fabulous Alumni Of Stan Kenton), an April 8, 1953 performance of "I Get A Kick Out Of You" is listed as rejected in Capitol's files. Nevertheless, an inspection of both the Capitol Recording Sheet for the session and Kenton's Capitol Artist Performance Record retrieved no such performance. Master 11355, identified in some sources as the one containing the hypothetical version of "I Get A Kick Out Of You," actually appears in Capitol's files as part of the ensuing session (#2989), held on June 25, 1953. According to the files, the song is entitled "You Gotta Have A License," and the featured artist is Tommy Collins, not Kenton or Connor.


1. Review Of {"All About Ronnie" / "Baia"} [single]
The September 19, 1953 issue of Melody Maker contains the following review of Capitol single #2511:

"All About Ronnie is a showcase for Stan Kenton's recent vocal discovery Chris Connor. He intended the record to be the one that would set the glamorous 25 year old Kansas City girl on the road to international fame, and was so concerned that it should do her full justice that he turned down the first recording, remade the title at a subsequent session and then scrapped that and did yet another remake at a later date. Yet, after all that, Capitol has not even stated on the label that the side features a vocalist, let alone her. Which is a pity, because Miss Connor certainly deserves a label credit. She may not be the world's greatest ever, but she shows up here as a modern style torch singer who can hold her own with any of the contemporaries in the field. She has a vibrant, luscious tone, sings well technically and knows how to tug the heart strings without descending to the exaggerated emotionalism and other affectations of the Johnnie Rays and other horrors, male and female, who somehow get themselves accepted as vocalists. Chris also has a leading role in Baia, but of a very different kind. Her voice is used 'instrumentally.' Maybe you won't think the result compares very favourably with Duke Ellington's Kay Davies or the bop offerings of Jackie Cain but if so the blame will be less Miss Connor's and more that of the arranger, the recording, and whoever directed her. The arrangement does no more than give the melody to articulate without any attempt to blend her with the rest of the band; the recording makes too much use of the echo chamber; and someone seems to have told her to just doo-ee-oo. The outcome is anything but imaginative or subtle as far as Chris' contribution is concerned. Otherwise the record is a typical Kenton Latin-American styled presentation, and while not his best, should satisfy most Kenton enthusiasts."

The claim that "All About Ronnie" was recorded on three dates is curious. There is evidence of only two "All About Ronnie" masters featuring Chris Connor.

Blue Arrows (A Technical Note)

Periodically found through this page are blue arrowheads; click on them if you want to see a longer list of albums containing any given Chris Connor performance.)

Date: 5/25/53
Location: Universal Studios, Chicago
Session #3053

The Stan Kenton Orchestra (ldr), Vinnie Dean, Lee Konitz (as), Bill Holman, Richie Kamuca (ts), Bob Gioga (bar), Conte Candoli, Walter "Pete" Candoli, Marion "Buddy" Childers, Don Dennis, Ernie Royal, Don Smith (t), Bob Burgess, Keith Moon, Frank Rosolino, Tom Shepard (tb), George Roberts (bt), Sal Salvador (g), Donald "Don" Bagley (b), Stan Kenton (p), Stan Levey (d), Harry DeAlmeida (tam), Chris Connor, The Stan Kenton Orchestra (v)

a. 11446-13Master All About Ronnie - 2:46(Joe Greene) / arr: Bill Russo
CAPITOL 78 & 452511 & F 2511 — {All About Ronnie / Baia}   (1953)
Creative World Licensed LPCW ST-1029 — [Stan Kenton] Some Women I've Known   (1971)
CAPITOL©Toshiba-EMI CDTOCJ-5651-5655 (Japan) — [Stan Kenton] The Creative World Of Stan Kenton   (1991)
CAPITOL CD7 97350 2 — [Stan Kenton] Stan Kenton Retrospective   (1992)
b. 11559-23Master I Get A Kick Out Of You - 2:44(Cole Porter) / arr: Bill Russo
CAPITOL LPT-20244 (United Kingdom) — [Stan Kenton] The Fabulous Alumni of Stan Kenton    (1963)
Creative World Licensed LPCW ST-1028 — [Stan Kenton] The Fabulous Alumni Of Stan Kenton   (1971)
CAPITOL©Toshiba-EMI LPECCJ-1013 (Japan) — [Various Artists] The Treasury Of Modern Vocal, Vol. 13   (1976)
CAPITOL CS/CD0777 7 96361 — [Various Artists] Anything Goes: Cole Porter ("Capitol Sings" Series)   (1992)
CAPITOL©Toshiba-EMI LPSlj-27631 (Japan) — [Various Artists] 201 Vocal Standards From A To Z, Sung By 64 Great Singers    
Both titles on:
CAPITOL©Toshiba-EMI LPECP 88033 (Japan) — [Stan Kenton] Kenton's Girl Friends   (1973)
Mosaic Licensed LP/CDMR6-136 / MD4-136 — [Stan Kenton] The Complete Capitol Recordings Of The Holman And Russo Charts   (1991)
Giants Of Jazz/Promo Public Domain CD53230 (Italy) — All About Ronnie ("Giants of Jazz" Series)   (1996)
Giants Of Jazz/Promo Public Domain CD53240 (Italy) — [Stan Kenton] Jazz Ladies & Stan Kenton   (1996)
Ajazz Collectors' Label LPAjaz C-1654 — [Stan Kenton] Stan Kenton In Disco Order, Volume 16   


This was Chris Connor's last studio session with The Stan Kenton Orchestra. It was by no means her last date with the band, however. In concerts, she continued to work with them until the end of June.

A Bio-Discographical Account Of Chris Connor's Canary Years


Chris Connor made her debut on recording in 1949, as a member of The Snowflakes, the Claude Thornhill Orchestra's choral group. Connor had joined the group in late 1948. According to her own estimations, she spent about 6 months singing with them, and then left for a few months, apparently lured by the opportunity of becoming another band's solo singer. She came back to the Thornhill fold in 1949, but not as a choral member any longer. From then on, Connor served chiefly as a canary -- not just with Thornhill but also with the other bands for which she worked during this period (1949-1952).

To be more specific, Connor is known to have worked with three additional bands. After her first stint with Thornhill, there were some months spent as Herb Fields' canary (three at most). Those months do not seem to have produced any recording activity. Her equally short stint as Jerry Wald's vocalist did produce one recording date. (See session dated March 31, 1952, and also the Wald-theme comments in sub-section below.) Finally, on February 1953, Connor joined The Stan Kenton Orchestra, a decision that led to greater visibility across the nation. After six months with Kenton, she left that band, too, and from then onwards worked as a solo act.

Table Of Contents

The lengthy notes found below are divided in three main parts:

I. Chris Connor With The Claude Thornhill Orchestra (First, Second, Third Period)
II. Chris Connor With The Jerry Wald Orchestra
III. Chris Connor With The Stan Kenton Orchestra

I. Chris Connor With Claude Thornhill's Orchestra

A. First Thornhill Period: The Snowflakes

The Snowflakes was the name that Claude Thornhill's management gave to the vocal group which they assembled and integrated to his orchestra. Other names had been assigned to the group before this one became the permanent, longest-lasting one. The earliest edition of the group had been active before the was period. It had been initially known as just The Quintet, then as The Pair of Pairs, and finally as The Snowflakes. That last name was bestowed in late 1941 or thereabouts, when Thornhill had a hit with the song "Snowfall." (From then onwards, that tune became the orchestra's official theme.)

Under their new name, the group participated in a Thornhill studio session held on July 24, 1942 -- just a few days before the start of a long-lasting record ban, not coincidentally. The ban forbade unionated musicians from working with music companies until the union's demands were met. For bandleaders who kept working with their record labels during this period, one solution to the absence of musical instrumentation was the employment of choral groups whose vocals harmonies could substitute for the missing instruments.

During the ban period, Thornhill's label (Columbia) slowly released the Snowflakes pre-ban masters that had been stored in the vaults. The group's 1942 version of "There's A Small Hotel" was out on 78 in July 1944, their version of "I Don't Know Why" even later, in September 1945.

After the July 24, 1942 session, I have found no evidence of any subsequent recording activity by The Snowflakes -- neither during the ban period nor in the years that immediately followed its lifting. My general impression is that Thornhill did not re-activate his choral group until the end of the decade. (Actually, his entire band was probably dormant for a good portion of the 1940s, while Thornhill served military duty with the Navy.)

The choral ensemble was probably revived in December 1948, right after the lifting of the second music ban of the 1940s (known as the 1948 American Federation of Musicians ban). During 1949, references to The Snowflakes began to reappear in the press. For instance, a report in the July 16, 1949 issue of Billboard magazine states that '[w]ith each succeeding month, leader Thornhill has experimented, added, subtracted and exchanged among the resources of his band in an effort to find the combination that leads to the Miller mantle. His latest amendments include the return of the vocal group, the Snowflakes, to his bandstand - something he hasn't sported since his prewar Glen Island days."

In early 1949, The Snowflakes consisted of five members -- or perhaps just four. According to Fresh Sound LP Nl 46030, the members were J. Orr, J. Eich, Art Brown, Chris Connor, and M. L. Eyre. In his book V-Discs: A History And Discography, Richard S. Sears also lists these five names as the individuals who sang during the January 6, 1949 session.

On the other hand, Charles Garrod's discography of Claude Thornhill names not five but four members at the same January 6, 1949 session. Most disconcertingly, the names given by Garrod are entirely different: Nancy Clayton, Joe Derise, Jim Preston, and Hugh Baker. I am not inclined to fully trust the veracity of Garrod's listing. Notice that Chris Connor is not even listed. Besides, Fresh Sound's personnel listing carry more weight, insofar as it seems to originate in RCA's session reports. The names listed by Garrod were simply later members of The Snowflakes and the orchestra, not yet in the ensemble at the time of the early 1949 session.

Confusion over the group's total number of members and their names could stem from a variety of factors, of course. One factor would be, not surprisingly, the departure of some members and hiring of others, especially during the initial months (late 1948 - early 1949). For instance, Hugh Baker joined the group in February 1949 -- i.e., after the January 1949 session listed in this page. Baker actually stayed with The Snowflakes until May 1950, when Thornhill decided not to use the group during the band's West Coast tour. That decision effectively ended the group's existence. (My thanks to Hugh's son, Linwood Baker, for sharing these facts with me -- which he in turn learned from his mother. Linwood has also told me that two ensemble members, Hugh Baker and Jimmy Preston, joined The Snowflakes after leaving a studio group known as The Rainbows.)

As another source of confusion, we must also factor in Joe Derise's multiple roles within the Thornhill orchestra. The director of The Snowflakes sometimes sang with them and sometimes did not; he also played with the band. A talented multi-instrumentalist (pianist, guitarist), arranger and singer, he joined the band around 1948. For the entire duration of his stay with Thornhill, Derise remained closely tied to the choral group. Perhaps the fact that he sometimes took on vocal duties with the group led to confusion as to whether he should or should not be billed among its members.

Also likely to cause confusion as to The Snowflakes' membership is the fact that this orchestra had so many solo vocalists during the short time span under consideration (1949-1950) -- not only Derise and the choral group but also a pair of standard vocalists. In 1949, the latter were Russ McIntyre and Nancy Clayton. Whereas McIntyre was billed just as the boy vocalist (not as a member of The Snowflakes), Clayton seems to have been deemed at one point the orchestra's canary at another point a Snowflakes member. (Perhaps she graduated from one position to the other?)

Yet one more possible source of confusion was Chris Connor's own departure from the Thornhill fold, after just a few months with them, and her return, at least twice, in subsequent years -- as detailed in other sections below.

Unfortunately, Connor's presence or absence in most of the group's 1949 and 1950 masters cannot be confidently ascertained. During the year 1949, the group participated in at least five RCA studio dates, and also in transcription sessions for the Thesaurus radio service. The last known Snowflakes recordings are from 1950, which was also the year in which Derise left Thornhill's orchestra. Some of these vocals are credited to The Snowflakes as a group, with no specification of the members heard. When names are mentioned, they are usually those of a "boy" or "girl" singer for whom The Snowflakes are singing background vocals. Other times, one of the group's male members takes on the role of soloist, and for that reason his name is mentioned. There is one vocal in which Connor herself is the featured soloist, and thus listed as such, but otherwise the group's female members are neither featured nor identified.

I have not been particularly successful in my attempts at identifying Connor's presence through careful listening. Because the singing is done mostly in unison, individual voices are hard to distinguish or identify. (Readers must bear in mind that most of these vocals are choral pieces, for which the group's voices were generally expected to blend into an unit.)

Bear also in mind that we are not fully certain of the amount of time spent by Connor as a member of the choral ensemble. In the 1950s, the singer casually told the press that she had spent about six months as one of The Snowflakes, but it is not clear if her comment was meant to be taken as an exact calculation or as a vague approximation. (An echo of the same six-month statement can also be read in the liner notes for the 1999 CD Warm Cool: The Atlantic Years, a project co-produced by Connor herself.)

Due to all of the above-mentioned reasons, I have included only one session by The Snowflakes in this discography. On that January 6, 1949 session, Connor's presence is clearly audible, both in the vocal for which she receives soloist credit and in the vocal credited to the group, sans soloist.

In the 2000s, Connor could not recall even having gone to the studio with The Snowflakes, not even for the aforementioned January 6, 1949 session. Hence she expressed doubt that the session actually happened. Given the fact that more than 50 years had elapsed since the events in question, any specific reminiscences would have been hard to evoke for Connor -- as would have been for most anybody else. (Then again, Connor could be right. During her time with the ensemble, she might have not gone to the studio at all. The so-called January 6 "recordings" might not be recordings per se. For an explanation of what this possibility would entail, see my notes under session dated January 6, 1949.)

Below is a list of all Snowflakes masters from the first half of 1949, when Connor would have been (according to her six-month estimation) a group member. I begin with the earliest 1949 Snowflakes date known to me, January 4. I should mention in passing that The Claude Thornhill Orchestra also had studio sessions on January 4 and 5, but The Snowflakes were not part of those earlier dates. In passing, it should also be noted that various discographies credit The Snowflakes with a vocal recorded during the January 5 session. The credit is erroneous. Instead of a vocal, the title in question ("Lullaby Of The Rain") is actually an instrumental.

January 4, 1949; RCA session
-- Wind In My Sails (credit: The Snowflakes with Art Brown as soloist)
(Two other vocals were recorded on this date, neither one featuring The Snowflakes. "If I Forget You" was sung by the ensemble's boy vocalist, Buddy Hughes. In "My Dreams Is Yours," Art Brown takes on the role of boy vocalist, with no audible participation from the other members of the group. On January 5, the band recorded five instrumentals -- no vocals.)

January 6, 1949; RCA session
--I Don't Know Why (credit: The Snowflakes)
--There's A Small Hotel (credit: The Snowflakes with Chris Connor as soloist)
(These were the second and third masters recorded during this session. As for the first master, it was also a vocal, entitled "If I Forget You." As previously mentioned, "If I Forget You" had been recorded two days earlier, with a vocal credited to boy vocalist Buddy Hughes, and left unissued until late into the LP era. This January 5 version is sung by Art Brown, one of the members of The Snowflakes; Hughes is not listed as present on the date.)

January 9, 1949; RCA session
--Wind In My Sails (credit: Buddy Hughes with The Snowflakes)

April 27, 1949; RCA session
--Moonlight And Roses (credit: The Snowflakes with Art Brown as soloist)

June 9, 1949; RCA session
--On The 5:45 (accompanying vocalists Nancy Clayton and Russ McIntyre)

July, 1949; Thesaurus sessions
-- Moonlight Bay (The Snowflakes accompanying Joe Derise)
-- Side By Side (The Snowflakes accompanying Joe Derise)
-- Iowa Indian Fight Song (The Snowflakes accompanying Joe Derise)
-- Johnson Rag (The Snowflakes accompanying Joe Derise)
-- Moonlight and Roses (The Snowflakes)
-- There's A Small Hotel (The Snowflakes)
-- I Don't Know Why (The Snowflakes)
-- Look For The Silver Lining (The Snowflakes)
-- On The 5:45 (The Snowflakes)

As previously mentioned, Chris Connor's involvement in any of these masters is difficult to ascertain. After repeated listening, I'm inclined to believe that she is not part of the vocals that were recorded in June and July. I remain less certain about the earlier sessions. If Connor is heard in the January masters, her voice has been integrated so well to the group's harmonies -- or, perhaps, has been pushed into the background -- so well that it cannot be distinguished from the rest. Should proof be foud that Connor participated in any of the above-mentioned 1949 masters, I will of course create sessions for them.

During the second half of 1949 (when Connor might have not been with the group any longer), The Snowflakes recorded more vocals (in October and November).

B. Second Thornhill Period: Singer On The Road

Various sources indicate that Chris Connor sang with Claude Thornhill's band over two time periods: the first as a member of The Snowflakes (1949) and the second as Thornhill's featured female vocalist. The second period appears to have begun some time in 1950 and to have ended around December 31, 1951, when the orchestra "disbanded in order to rest and vacation," with no knowledge of "when it will be reformed" (Down Beat, February 8, 1952). In a 1954 interview (further discussed below), Connor herself circumscribed the timeline to 1950-1951. She does not seem to have been involved in any recording activity during this second period, tellingly described by her as "one-and-a-half years of one-niters."

C. Third Thornhill Period: Singer At The Statler Hotel

As already mentioned, an article published in the February 1952 issued of Down Beat reported that The Claude Thornhill Orchestra had disbanded effective January 1st of that year, thereby ending Connor's second period with the band. Further corroboration of this point comes from a 1954 article in which Connor herself calculates that the orchestra disbanded for nine months.

Although not mentioned in most sources, Connor did sing with Thornhill for yet a third period, after Thornhill reactivated his orchestra. If her recollection that the orchestra disbanded for nine months was accurate, then Thornhill must have revived it in September or October 1952.

According to Down Beat , Thornhill's orchestra was indeed active by that time, and Chris Connor was acting at the band's solo singer. The magazine's November 19, 1952 issue adds that Thornhill had been playing at The Statler's Hotel's Cafe Rouge (NY) since October 20. Still further, an article in a later issue (December 12, 1952) opens with the statement that Thornhill had been "in town for the last couple of weeks at the Cafe Rouge of the Hotel Statler." (Incidentally, the article closes with a description of Chris Connor as a "first-rate singer" and "quite a handsome wench, but more important, is evolving on the bandstand an excellent Anita O'Day-ish style which is enhanced with some range.")

Garrod's aforementioned Claude Thornhill discography provides additional corroboration that this third period happened. He lists various concerts in which Chris Connor is credited as the vocalist. All of them are dated 10/52 and identified as having been broadcast over the radio airwaves -- beamed from The Statler Hotel, in New York City. (To my knowledge, those radio broadcasts have not been commercially released in their entirety. Only a few of the songs, including various performances by Chris Connor, have appeared on LP and CD. For further details, see October 1952 dates in the Concert, Radio & Television page.)

In short, the collected data indicates that Chris Connor came back to work with Thornhill's band for a third time.

This last period must have lasted somewhere between a couple of (October) weeks and, at most, four months. By mid-February 1953, Connor was part of The Stan Kenton Orchestra. Based on certain details, discussed in the Wald and Kenton sections above, one possible scenario would involve Connor at work with Thornhill during the 1952 months of September and October, after which time she and the band members would have been given a so-called three-month vacation. Three months would mean that the musicians and Connor came back in late January or early February 1953.

Whether Connor went with Thornhill to the studio during this third and last period is a thornier matter. In Garrod's discography of The Claude Thornhill Orchestra, she is actually listed as part of the personnel that participated in a December 1952 studio session. But Garrod provides no specifics about the date, and I have not seen mention of it anywhere else. Hence the happening of this date -- and Chris Connor's participation in it -- remain to be proven.

D. Acknowledgments

My discussion about Charles Garrod's discography has been made possible thanks to data kindly sent to me by Dave Loveless and Jason Perry.

II. Chris Connor With The Jerry Wald Orchestra

According to the anonymous reporter of an article and interview printed on the September 8, 1954 issued of Down Beat, Chris Connor's pre-1953 career had consisted of six months with The Claude Thornhill Orchestra, three months with Herbie Fields, and a spell singing solo in New Jersey and New York. Then Connor had gone (in the artist's own words for the interview) "back with Thornhill for one and a half years of one-niters [...] Claude disbanded nine months himself, and [then] I got an offer from Jerry Wald."

The period in which Thornhill remained inactive officially began in January 1952 and concluded in late September. We know that Connor was back with Thornhill around October 1952.

It would thus seem that her time with Wald happened some time between January and September. A biographical essay by Francis D. McKinley states that "from time to time, Thornhill would break up the band and allow its members to go on vacation. Although Connor received three months of paid vacation, she joined Jerry Wald's orchestra for a two-week temporary assignment at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana." Based on McKinley's allusion to a three-month period following immediately after Thornhill disbanded, we could surmise that Connor joined Wald some time between January and March of 1952.

Indeed, we have evidence of activity during the last weeks of March 1952, when Wald and Connor are known to have performed together at the Arcadia Ballroom in New York (March 20). She would also record with him in mid-April. But the exact amount of time that Connor spent as Wald's canary remains unknown. It could have consisted of those two months only, or it could have gone on well into the summer. This is a fuzzy subject matter, to which I cannot add any specifics at the present time.

The two above-mentioned sources would seem to contain a discrepancy. Both mention time spent at the Roosevelt Hotel, but they do not seem to point to the same time period:

1. In the McKinley commentary, Connor and Wald are said to have spent two weeks singing at the Roosevelt Hotel, at a time when Thornhill had allegedly given Connor a three-month pay's vacation. From the Thornhill information at hand, this gig would seem to have taken place between January and March of 1952, as already mentioned.

2. In the Down Beat interview (September 8, 1954), Connor says that a month had elapsed from the time in which she joined Wald's orchestra to the moment when fellow singer June Christy happened to hear her, singing live with Wald, on a radio remote from The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. Six months later, Connor adds, she was singing with Stan Kenton. Since she joined Kenton's band in mid-February of 1953, the gig at the Roosevelt would have taken place around October of 1952, if we take Connor at her word.

There are many possible solutions to the apparent discrepancy between these two sources, but no strong evidence to support any of them. One or both sources could be wrong. Alternatively, both could be right; instead, the implications drawn could be wrong. Be that as it may, and in the absence of evidence, I will submit my own speculation.

I am inclined to think that Connor's own chronology, in particular, is off-base. She might have consciously decided to simplify matters for the press. Or she might have become confused about the time elapsed. My inclination is toward the likelihood that she spent either a long period with Wald (from ca. March 1952 to ca. September 1952) or two short periods with the bandleader (ca. March to ca. April 1952; ca. September 1952).

As already mentioned, Connor's period(s) of work with Wald generated at least one session. See above, session dated April 17, 1952. Incidentally, she was billed as "Chris Connors" in all Jerry Wald items (e.g., the 45 rpm single Decca 9-28203). She would be billed in the same manner at the outset of her apprenticeship with Stan Kenton, too (see Concert, Radio & Television Dates, session dated February 19, 1953), including the fine print of his contemporaneous Capitol singles.

III. Chris Connor With The Stan Kenton Orchestra

A. Canary Hiring: Who, Why, How, Where And When

According to Chris Connor's own comments to the press, June Christy was the person who recommended her to Stan Kenton. Christy had been working as Kenton's canary, on and off, since the mid-1940s. By 1952, she had chosen to concentrate more exclusively on her solo work, with only the occasional appearance as Kenton's guest vocalist.

Since June Christy's vocals had resulted in a string of commercial hits for Kenton's band, Christy and Kenton probably felt that a similar-sounding singer would be an ideal replacement. When she heard Chris Connor on the radio -- singing with The Jerry Wald Orchestra -- Christy thought that Connor sounded like her, and would thus be a worthy candidate for an audition with Kenton. Christy then proceeded to mention Connor's name to Kenton. Such is the version of events told by all three principals in the story, including the bandleader: "June told us about a girl by the name of Chris Connors and I figured if anyone knew what we wanted it would be June. I got hold of a record Chris had made and agreed this was it - and it was." Added Connor: "Kenton ... said that I must be the real deal if June Christy recommended me, so he called me."

The record of which Kenton got hold might have actually been an audition performance. According to Francis D. McKinley in his already mentioned write-up, Christy "was so impressed with [Connor's] style and range, she strongly recommended her to Kenton. He in turn sent a disc jockey to New Orleans where an audition tape was made. When Kenton heard the tape that sounded so much like Christy, coupled with the high recommendation that Christy had made, he offered Connor a job. Two weeks later she joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra."

It must be clarified that Chris Connor was not June Christy's immediate successor. Three other female vocalists worked for Kenton between late 1951 and Chris Connor's hiring in early 1953. (After singing with the band at an October 14, 1951 concert, Christy made herself available to Kenton only on an irregular basis, mostly filling in when subsequent canaries were momentarily unavailable, or had just left.) The post-Christy, pre-Connor canaries were Jerri Winters, Helen Carr, and Kay Brown. Some of Winters publicity claims an eight-month stay dating back to late 1951, but music magazine articles from the period point to a shorter span, beginning in February 1952 (after winning a radio contest, hosted by Gene Norman, to become Kenton's canary) and ending in late May. Carr's exact time span is also a bit unclear, falling somewhere in between two months and two weeks (the latter corresponding to late July and early August). One article claims that she was enlisted as a "short-term replacement" for the departed Winters. It thus seems that her stay had been pre-stipulated to be circumscribed to the summer of 1952.

Brown, then the fiancée of Kenton bandmember Maynard Ferguson, and soon to become his wife, officially joined on August 16, 1952. Brown's departure six months later (January 5, 1953 marked her last concert appearance) is acknowledged in the following notice, published in the February 11, 1953 issue of Downbeat magazine: "Kay Brown, former movie starlet and the wife of Kenton trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, left the band shortly before Kenton opened at the Palladium here. Kay said she felt she was 'not advancing her career by singing with the band'." Although the article suggests that Brown was the one who had chosen to depart, unofficial sources claim that it was Kenton who made the decision to let Brown go. Be that as it may, the split would seem to have been happened somewhat unexpectedly; advance publicity for Kenton's January concerts at the Palladium listed Brown as the scheduled vocalist. Instead, June Christy filled Brown's vacant slot, though only for a few days. Christy could not remain with Kenton any further because, as the aforementioned Downbeat article states, "she was booked for a tour of Korea with the Larry Finley unit leaving here in mid January."

The aforementioned unofficial sources claim that Ferguson also quit the band over Kenton's decision to let Brown go and hire Connor. After a few weeks into Connor's integration to the fold, Ferguson was indeed gone. Ferguson and Brown went on to pursue both solo and join opportunities, including recording work for the Mercury label. (He would re-join years later. The marriage to Brown was very short-lived, and by 1955 he had already re-married.)

B. Period Spent With The Stan Kenton Orchestra: Early February-Early July 1953

Various sources (e. g., the essay in the booklet of Mosaic CD Box Set MD4-136) wrongly state that Chris Connor officially joined The Stan Kenton Orchestra on January 16, 1953. The chief reason for those sources' statement seems to be Connor's alleged participation in a Kenton concert that took place on that date, and which has been preserved on acetate. This credit is an error. A case of mistaken identity is at play: the cool-voiced singer heard in the acetate is not Chris Connor but June Christy. (As for the concert in question, it was one of Christy's aforementioned guest appearances with the band at the Palladium.)

Chris Connor did not join Kenton's orchestra before early February 1953. She was hired over other candidates who had auditioned for the slot, including Sylvia Syms (another then-emerging singer who would go on to have a substantial solo recording career). Connor remembers that she was in Ohio, working with Claude Thornhill's band, when Stan Kenton's manager (George Morte) called her, to ask if (and when) she wanted to join Kenton. An awed Connor gave the following reply: "Yeah, yesterday I can." As soon as she could, the excited vocalist traveled back to Los Angeles. A week after Morte's phone call, she officially joined Kenton.

Three arguments support early February as the likeliest dating for Connor's integration to Kenton's fold:

1- The singer herself has said that her first time singing with the band was on Kenton's February 11 session. She particularly remembers how awe-struck she felt, while watching and listening to the band's rendition of "A Trumpet" (an instrumental which was the first master recorded at that session). The author of an article published on the April 8, 1953 issue of Down Beat magazine backs up her claim; it states that "[h]er first assignment after Stan called her and asked her to join the band was a recording session."

2- Shortly after the last of the band's concert at the Hollywood Palladium (February 1, 1953), a local musician has claimed to have seen the singer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

3- During his introduction of the singer at a Cornell University concert (April 15, 1953), Kenton states that Connor had been singing with the band for eight or nine weeks. If Kenton's memory was on the mark, his comment would place Connor's joining date within the first two weeks of February.

As for Connor's duration on this canary job with the Kenton group, press accounts state that she remained in the post for ten months. However, I can confidently assert that those accounts over-extend her stay with the orchestra. As reflected by the live and studio sessions in this discography, the vocalist's working period with the band spanned no more than five months -- from February to June 1953. In spite of being so limited, Connor's span with The Stan Kenton Orchestra is justly remembered as her most significant contribution to the world of the big bands.

The singer's last date as an official Kenton Orchestra member took place on July 5, 1953, in Vermilion, Ohio. The reason for the singer's departure seems to have been exhaustion. She had had enough of the grueling life on the road that was par for the course among successful big bands. "I decided to go on my own after six years of one nighters," she told journalist Harry J. Stathos, of the News World Staff in 1980. "I was about to collapse. I was completely exhausted. That's the only reason I left Stan."

Connor gave notice a few weeks before Kenton embarked on an European tour. The tour's departure date was August 20, its returning date September 25. Once again, June Christy came to the rescue, this time traveling with the band to Europe. And once more, Christy's return to the Kenton fold was temporary. (After the European concert, Christy's solo career blossomed, thanks in no small measure to the song "Something Cool" and the album of the same title, the former recorded shortly before the European sojourn.) Once Christy's stint the band ran its course, The Stan Kenton Orchestra would not record again with a regular female vocalist until the arrival in 1955 of Kenton's newlywed, singer Ann Richards.

"I was once told that I left Kenton too soon," mused Connor during an interview for an article published in the March 10, 1974 issue of Newsday magazine, "that if I had stayed with the band a while longer, I'd have really made a big name for myself. I think that might be true. Stan's still my favorite band. I'd love to sing with him again -- not regularly, but maybe just for a weekend once in a while." In a later article (published by The Atlanta Constitution on February 29, 1980), Connor mentioned a tantalizing but, sadly, unrealized plan devised by Kenton, who had died on August 25, 1979: "The last time I saw Stan, he was talking about recording an album on his label with me, Anita [O'Day] and June [Christy] as a trio and now, I'm really sorry that we never got to do it."


I would like to express my gratitude to Dave Loveless for his significant contributions to my research on The Snowflakes, and to Ed Chaplin for his extensive, thorough guidance through all matters Kenton.

Sessions Reported: 5

Performances Reported: 15

Unique Songs Reported: 14

Unique Issues Reported: 39