Friday, July 18, 2008
R.I.P. Jo Stafford
Wednesday evening, Jo Stafford died.
She was one of the first people signed to Capitol Records after singing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra for years. Jo was a member of the Pied Pipers, a vocal ensemble that backed up Dorsey and Frank Sinatra. Her beautiful, pure voice and her innate connection with the lyrics she sang made Jo Stafford one of the finest singers of her time.
Jo Stafford's other career was as part of a duet, Jonathan and Darlene Edwards. "Jonathan" was Paul Weston, Jo's second husband and a noted pianist and arranger. Jonathan and Darlene were created as casual entertainment for cocktail parties. Jonathan played piano with great gusto and lots of flubbed notes and timekeeping while Darlene sang off-pitch, usually within a quarter-tone sharp or flat of the written melody. They tackled (literally) so many standards on their albums that it's hard for me to hear "Dizzy Fingers" or "I Love Paris" without cringing in anticipation. They won a comedy Grammy award in 1960, sadly the only Grammy that Jo Stafford was ever awarded.
Years later, Paul and Jo revived Jonathan and Darlene, and we have wonderful versions of "I Am Woman" and "Stayin' Alive" to immerse ourselves in.
Here's a link to their myspace tribute page where you can sample some of this stuff. Words cannot do it justice.
I'm not sure that something as subtle and annoying would go over very well in 2008, but luckily Paul and Jo left us an incredible wealth of nearly unlistenable joy. Godspeed, Jo.