I was driving through Portland recently listening to KMHD-FM (89.1) when a song came on the radio. Wow, I thought, this is pretty good. I reached down and turned up the volume, but for the life of me, couldn’t identify the female vocalist. Who was she? Fortunately, I got my answer at song’s end. Her name is Laurie Allyn.
Laurie Allyn, also known as Didi Pierce, sang ballads and torch songs in Chicago jazz clubs during the mid-1950’s. She also performed at the Crystal Palace in St. Louis, MO. Her voice has a clear, sweet tone that hits the high notes spot-on. She was “discovered” in 1957 by Red Clyde, a jazz producer, who whisked her away to a recording studio at Mode Records in California.
For two weeks, Laurie worked hard recording a dozen tracks that included such jazz classics as The More I See You, So In Love, You Go To My Head, and a haunting rendition of Take Me In Your Arms.
In addition to a full orchestra of brass and strings, Laurie was backed by some of the most talented individuals in the recording industry at that time: Grammy-award-winning record producer and recording engineer, Bones Howe. Famed pianist, composer, arranger, and music producer, Marty Paich. And well-known jazz trumpet soloist, Don Fagerquist.
The resulting collection of blues ballads and up-tempo jazz is remarkable. And, by all accounts, Paradise by Laurie Allyn would have gone straight to the top of the charts once it was released. Unfortunately, Mode Records ceased operations one week after they finished recording and Laurie’s album never saw the light of day . . .
Until August 2004, that is. Almost 50 years later! That’s when Vsop Records–a small record label that had acquired the original recordings from Mode Records–finally released Paradise on CD.
Didi Pierce, of course, had since moved on with her life. She married, raised two daughters and, at some point, moved to Port Townsend WA. A long way from those Chicago jazz clubs. She never did record another album, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this one!
Paradise by Laurie Allyn is currently available as both a CD and an MP3 download on Amazon.com. Just click on the link to sample some of what I heard on that late afternoon drive through Portland.