This Compact Jazz
release attempts to summarize Helen Merrill's most revered period, moving right down the middle of the '50s, but some of its priorities are a bit curious. Merrill's warm, lightly sexy voice is showcased in some typical-for-the-period small combo and string-laden settings; she could fit equally easily into the cool super-hip jazz stance and the commercial easy-listening realities of that time. While there are a representative number of tracks from her historic collaboration with Clifford Brown
, Mercury blunders by including only one track ("I'm a Fool to Want You") from her 1956 album with Gil Evans
-- a record that had the effect of putting the great arranger's name back on the map. However, for those who just want to sample Merrill
without going the completist route, this is an adequate dip into the pool.