Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Mary Ann McCall born 4 May 1919

Mary Ann McCall (May 4, 1919 – December 14, 1994) was acknowledged as the one of the most expressive voices in jazz who worked with the finest jazzmen of her time, including Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman; and Charlie Barnet. Little-known today, and not widely recorded during even the most active periods of her career, she has sometimes been compared to Billie Holiday and Anita O‘Day for the soulful maturity of her late 1940s and 1950s work. 

The Philadelphia native began to work professionally in the late 1930s while still a teenager, initially making appearances as a dancer and singer with Buddy Morrow’s band and later moving on to sing with Tommy Dorsey briefly in 1938. She worked for Woody Herman in 1939, but by the end of the year she’d joined Charlie Barnet’s orchestra, leaving the band in 1940. She sang with Tommy Reynolds’ orchestra in late 1940. After departing Reynolds, she appeared on Philadelphia radio station WCAU in August 1942 and in October joined Billy Marshall’s society orchestra at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel. She left Marshall in early March 1943 to sing with Reynolds again but by the end of the month she’d rejoined Barnet. She retired from singing soon after.

In late 1946, McCall returned to the music business, joining Herman’s Herd again. She left in early 1947, remaining with Herman’s Columbia label as part of their increase in popular jazz waxings, where she often worked with the Ralph Burns Orchestra. In early 1948, she returned to Herman’s band again, staying into mid-1949. While still a member of the Herd in early 1949 she recorded solo on the Discovery label. She also won the Down Beat Readers' Poll for "Girl Singer (With Band)". 


McCall married Jimmy Dorsey trumpeter Jimmy Blake in 1940 and Herman tenor sax player and arranger Lou Cohn in 1949. It was during this time she developed a serious heroin habit, eventually losing her home before being arrested in San Francisco on possession of narcotics in 1953. 

As a leader, McCall recorded, six songs for Discovery in 1948, four for Roost in 1950. She recorded albums for Regent in 1956, Jubilee in 1958 and Coral in 1959.She also recorded several albums under her own name, working with such artists as Charlie Ventura, Teddy Charles, the Phil Moore Orchestra, and the Ernie Wilkins Orchestra. Her most acclaimed album was 1957’s Easy Living, which featured outstanding backup by Zoot Sims and others, but things were beginning to move downhill. 

She eventually relocated to Los Angeles, where she continued to be regarded as a respected talent (as you can see in the video below) but consistent success seemed elusive. As the years passed she had to scramble for the occasional lounge job but was still a favourite of fans in the know. McCall retired from the music business in the 1960s as work become more sporadic. McCall re-emerged to sing and record with Jake Hanna in1976 and Nat Pierce in 1978, still sounding close to prime form. 

 In 1987, she came out of retirement to perform at a Woody Herman tribute concert just a few days before the bandleader’s death. Mary Ann McCall passed away in 1994, age 75. 

(Edited from Bandchirps, AllMusic & The Geezer Music Club)


boppinbob said...

For “Mary Ann McCall – Complete Recordings 1950-1959 (2016 Fresh Sound Records)
3LPs ON 2CD SET Plus 11 BONUS TRACKS” go here:


1-1 There Must Be Something Better Than Love
1-2 Nothin' For Nothin'
1-3 The Sky Is Crying
1-4 After I Say I'm Sorry
1-5 I Cried For You
1-6 Until The Real Thing Comes Along
1-7 Careless
1-8 Please Be Kind
1-9 Detour Ahead
1-10 We'll Be Together Again
1-11 There'll Be Some Changes Made
Easy Living (1956)
1-12 Shake Down The Stars
1-13 You Can Depend On Me
1-14 Easy Living
1-15 Mean To Me
1-16 In My Solitude
1-17 I Thought About You
1-18 Deep Purple
1-19 Deed I Do
1-20 It's You Or No One
1-21 It's Been So Long
1-22 Something I Dreamed Last Night
1-23 It Must Be True
Detour To The Moon (1958)
2-1 Detour Ahead
2-2 I Wished On The Moon
2-3 The Moon Was Yellow
2-4 Oh! You Crazy Moon
2-5 Moonlight Becomes You
2-6 Moonglow
2-7 Shine On Harvest Moon
2-8 Blue Moon
2-9 East Of The Sun
2-10 No Moon At All
2-11 It's Only A Paper Moon
2-12 Moon Country
Melancholy Baby (1959)
2-13 My Melancholy Baby
2-14 Melancholy Nights
2-15 A Lover Is Blue
2-16 Trouble Is A Man
2-17 Blue (And Broken Hearted)
2-18 The Thrill Is Gone
2-19 Am I Blue
2-20 My Old Flame
2-21 Blue And Sentimental
2-22 Sentimental And Melancholy
2-23 Melancholy Mood
2-24 Melancholy (Is A Friend Of Mine)

This 2CD set represent a great value having all 3 her LPs from the different labels (Regent 'Easy Living' 1956, Jubilee 'Detour to the Moon' 1958 and Coral 'Melancholy Baby' 1959), 11 tracks (6 Decca and Roost sides, 5 from 12" Norgan album 'An Evening with Charlie Ventura' 1954) of three different bands.

I am looking for the Hep CD “You’re Mine You – 1939 – 1950 “ if anyone can help?

rntcj said...


Thanx for this one. A "new" artist here = "new" hears here.

Ciao! For now.

Bob Mac said...

Thanks for this. She's new for me too.

Dusty said...

Mary Ann McCall 1939 - 1950 ( not the album you are looking for but with most of the tunes are here )


720 In The Books NY, Feb 7, 1940
Between 18th And 19th On Chestnut Street NY, Dec 11, 1939
Big Wig In The Wig Wam NY, Apr 12, 1939
Busy As A Bee (I'm Buzz, Buzz, Buzzin') NY, Feb 7, 1940
Can This Be Love NY Sep 11, 1939
Castle Of Dreams NY, Feb 27, 1940
Clap Hands ! Here Comes Charlie ! NY, Dec 11, 1939
Dark Avenue NY Apr 16, 1940
Deed I Do NY Mar 21, 1940
Detour Ahead Hollywood, Jul 14, 1949
Detour Ahead Los Angeles, Jun 7, 1954
Ev'ry Sunday Afternoon NY, Feb 27, 1940
Fools Fall In Love NY Apr 16, 1940
From Another World NY, Feb 27, 1940
I Cried for You NY, Feb 1, 1950
I Got It Bad Rendezvous Ballroom, Balboa, CA, Jul 30, 1949
I Kinda Like You NY, Dec 11, 1939
It's A Wonderful World NY, Feb 7, 1940
It's The Last Time I'll Fall In Love NY Jun 19, 1940
Jamaica Rhumba Hollywood, Jul 14, 1949
Love Me N, Aug 2 1939
Love With A Capital You NY, Aug 2, 1939
Money Is Honey 1947
More Than You Know Hollywood, Dec 30, 1948
Night After Night After You NY, Dec 11, 1939
Nothin' From Nothin' NY, Jan 6, 1950
Now You Know NY, Dec 11, 1939
P.S. I Love You LA, Dec 30, 1947
Put That Down In Writing NY, Sep 11, 1939
Reminiscing NY May 8, 1940
Romance In The Dark LA, Sep 18, 1946
Six Lessons From Madame Lazonga NY May 8, 1940
So Far, So Good NY, Feb 7, 1940
Somebody Told Me NY, Dec 11, 1939
Thank Your Stars NY, Jan 3, 1940
The Breeze And I NY Apr 16, 1940
The Crickets Chicago, May 26, 1949
There Must Be Something Better Than Love NY, Jan 6, 1950
Until the Real Thing Comes Along NY, Feb 1, 1950
Wanderin' Blues NY Mar 21, 1940
Whatcha Know Joe NY Oct 14, 1940
When The Spirit Moves Me NY May 8, 1940
Where Was I NY Mar 21, 1940
You're Lonely And I'm Lonely NY Apr 16, 1940
You've Got Me Out On A Limb NY, Feb 27, 1940
You've Got Me Voodoo'd NY Mar 21, 1940


boppinbob said...

Wow. Thanks Dusty, much appreciated. Regards, Bob