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Helen O'Connell


O'Connell became one of America's big band canaries during her Swing-era tenure with the Jimmy Dorsey band, but her post-1950 solo recordings feature her finest work. She didn't have a big range, but her streamlined Swing lines and attention to lyrics led to a series of swell orchestrated and small-group jazz albums. O'Connell's spunky image and clean, blonde good looks earned her a tenure as the original Jane Pauley/Katie Couric on NBC's The Today Show, but she always returned to singing. Along the way O'Connell introduced a few stellar jazz standards, and one in particular -- "When the Sun Comes Out" -- shows off her knack for sophisticated, penthouse blues. Like Doris Day, another blonde cup of sunshine, O'Connell was a lot hipper than her public image. The Hindsight label creams many of her best jazz material onto The Sweetest Sounds. Unlike Day, O'Connell kept singing top-shelf material until her death in 1993.
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