I’d been trying to get into Big Band music recently, and people I had asked advice from pointed me towards folks like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey. And that was all well and good, but it left me wanting. Recently though, NPR did an article on Artie Shaw’s 100th Birthday and his Clarinetial influence upon his time. The article included songs with a dame named Helen Forrest, who provided vocals for much of Shaw’s orchestrations, and suddenly I remembered my Grandmother’s love for this woman’s voice. There wasn’t a classically strong bond between Grandmama and me when I knew her; she liked her Solitaire, and I enjoyed taping wooden meat-skewers to my wrist and pretending to Wolverine about. But I DO remember sitting with her on 4ths of Julys and listening to Helen Forrest. I always used to think all of Grandma’s music sounded the same, and in essence all Big Band music does. It circles and pirouettes around L-O-V-E, pining to dash into the warm arms of that special somebody. Smiling uniforms and glossy eyed skirts (no disrespect) swirling on the dance floor, and all the other scenes that frequent TMC represent a kind of swell magic to me now, and I’m suddenly missing those evenings of fireworks. Helen Forrest’s timeless voice takes me back, and helps me understand my Grandmother with a whole new perspective. The kind that sees her as she might have been: in dress and heels, dancing till the band was done. I won’t bore you with the statistics, suffice to say that Helen Forrest collaborated with a whole gosh-darn-heap of a lot of artists during her time, and she always seemed to be smiling when she did it. Instead I’ll let you listen to some of her songs, the ones you’ll find impossible not to wonder and remember within.
Quite possibly the 1st music video.