Christy at the Club Troubador, New York, c. 1947
November 20, 1925|
Springfield, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||June 21, 1990
Sherman Oaks, California
|Genres||Pop, jazz, cool jazz|
June Christy (born Shirley Luster; November 20, 1925 - June 21, 1990) was an American singer, known for her work in the cool jazz genre and for her silky smooth vocals. Her success as a singer began with The Stan Kenton Orchestra. She pursued a solo career from 1954 and is best known for her debut album Something Cool. After her death, she was hailed as "one of the finest and most neglected singers of her time."
Shirley Luster was born in Springfield, Illinois. She moved with her parents Steve and Marie (née Crain) Luster to Decatur, Illinois, when she was three years old. She began to sing with the Decatur-based Bill Oetzel Orchestra at thirteen. While attending Decatur High School she appeared with Oetzel and his society band, the Ben Bradley Band, and Bill Madden's Band. After high school she moved to Chicago, changed her name to Sharon Leslie, and sang with a group led by Boyd Raeburn. Later she joined Benny Strong's band. In 1944, Strong's band moved to New York City at the same time Christy was quarantined in Chicago with scarlet fever.
In 1945, after hearing that Anita O'Day had left Stan Kenton's Orchestra, she auditioned and was chosen for the role as a vocalist. During this time, she changed her name once again, becoming June Christy.
Her voice produced successful hits such as "Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy," the million-selling "Tampico" in 1945, and "How High the Moon". "Tampico" was Kenton's biggest-selling record. When the Kenton Band temporarily disbanded in 1948, she sang in nightclubs for a short time, and reunited with the band two years later. Christy appeared as guest vocalist on Kenton's albums Artistry in Rhythm (1946), Encores (1947), Innovations in Modern Music (1950) and Stan Kenton Presents (1950), Stan Kenton Classics (Capitol, 1944-47 ) and The Kenton Era (Capitol, 1940-54, ).
Beginning on September 28, 1959, Christy began a five-week road tour of 38 performances called "Road Show". The all-star billing: Stan Kenton and his orchestra, June Christy, The Four Freshmen. Capitol recorded highlights on October 10 at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, for a two-disc LP, reissued in 1988 on CD.
From 1947, she started to work on her own records, primarily with arranger and bandleader Pete Rugolo. In 1954, she released a 10" LP entitled Something Cool, recorded with Rugolo and his orchestra, a gathering of notable Los Angeles jazz musicians that included her husband, multi-instrumentalist Bob Cooper and alto saxophonist Bud Shank. Something Cool was re-released as a 12" LP in 1955 with additional selections, and then entirely rerecorded in stereo in 1960 with a somewhat different personnel. Christy would later say that the album was "the only thing I've recorded that I'm not unhappy with."Something Cool was also important in launching the vocal cool movement of the 1950s, and it hit the Top 20 Charts, as did her third album, The Misty Miss Christy.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Christy appeared on a number of television programs, including the short-lived CBS show Adventures in Jazz (1949), Eddie Condon's Floor Show (1949), The Jackie Gleason Show (1953), The Tonight Show (1955), The Nat King Cole Show (1957), Stars of Jazz (1958), The Steve Allen Show (1959), The Lively Ones (1963), and The Joey Bishop Show (1967). She also appeared on the first sponsored jazz concert on television, The Timex All-Star Jazz Show I (December 30, 1957), which also featured Louis Armstrong, Carmen McRae, Duke Ellington and Gene Krupa.
Christy embarked on dozens of concert tours, playing in Europe, South Africa, Australia and Japan. She toured to such an extent that eventually it began taking a toll on her marriage. She began to pull back from touring in the early 1960s.
R.M. Cook and Brian Morton, writers of The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, appreciated the singer's body of work: "Christy's wholesome but particularly sensuous voice is less an improviser's vehicle than an instrument for long, controlled lines and the shading of a fine vibrato. Her greatest moments--the heartbreaking 'Something Cool' itself, 'Midnight Sun,' 'I Should Care'--are as close to creating definitive interpretations as any singer can come."
In 1972, she sang at the Newport Jazz Festival in New York City, where she was reunited with the Kenton Orchestra. She also performed at a handful of jazz festivals during the late 1970s and 1980s, playing with a band of all-star West Coast jazz musicians led by Shorty Rogers, as well as taking part in a number of world tours.
Christy returned to the recording studio in 1977 to record her final solo LP, Impromptu. She recorded an interview in 1987 for a Paul Cacia produced album called "The Alumni Tribute to Stan Kenton" on the Happy Hour label. A number of other Kenton alumni (Shorty Rogers, Lee Konitz, Jack Sheldon, among them) interspersed their tunes with reminiscences of the man and the years on the road.
|Released||Album||Label & Number|
|1947||Artistry in Rhythm - Stan Kenton & His Orchestra (78" RPM Album- 4 records)||Capitol Records BD-39|
|1950||Day Dream (78" RPM Album- 4 records)||Capitol Records CC-126|
|1953||Get Happy||Capitol Records EAP 1-148|
|1953||The Swinging Chicks (10" Album)||Camay Records|
|1954||Something Cool (10" LP)||Capitol Records H 516|
|1955||Duet||Capitol Records T-656|
|1955||Something Cool (12" LP)||Capitol Records T-516|
|1956||The Misty Miss Christy||Capitol Records T 725|
|1957||Fair and Warmer!||Capitol Records T 833|
|1957||Gone for the Day||Capitol Records T 902|
|1958||This Is June Christy||Capitol Records T1006|
|1958||June's Got Rhythm||Capitol Records S/T1076|
|1958||The Song Is June!||Capitol Records S/T1114|
|1959||Recalls Those Kenton Days||Capitol Records S/T1202|
|1959||Ballads for Night People||Capitol Records S/T1308|
|1959||Road Show (with Stan Kenton & The Four Freshmen)||Capitol Records ST1327|
|1960||The Cool School||Capitol Records S/T1398|
|1960||Something Cool (stereo version)||Capitol Records SM 516|
|1960||Off-Beat||Capitol Records S/T1498|
|1961||Do-Re-Mi (with Bob Cooper)||Capitol Records S/T1586|
|1961||This Time of Year||Capitol Records S/T1605|
|1962||Big Band Specials||Capitol Records S/T1845|
|1962||Best of June Christy||Capitol Records T1693|
|1963||The Intimate Miss Christy||Capitol Records S/T1953|
|1965||Something Broadway, Something Latin||Capitol Records S/T2410|
|1977||Impromptu (with The Lou Levy Sextet)||Interplay Records IP 7710|
|1986||A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening (transcriptions - 6 from Stand By for Music radio show, 1956; 8 from The Navy Swings radio show, 1966)||Jasmine Records JASM 2528|
|1986||Uncollected June Christy with the Kentones (from Capitol Transcription sessions, 1946-1947)||Hindsight SR 219|
|1987||Uncollected June Christy Volume Two (transcriptions - 12 from US Marine Corps radio show, 1956; 2 from The Bob Crosby Show radio show, 1956)||Hindsight SR 235|
|1995||Day Dreams (compilation, 1947-1955)||Capitol Records|
|1995||Through the Years||Hindsight|
|1995||Spotlight on June Christy||Capitol Records|
|1997||The Jazz Sessions: The Best of June Christy||Capitol Records|
|1998||June Christy with The Johnny Guarnieri Quintet||Jasmine Records|
|1999||Live at the Newport Jazz Festival with Stan Kenton, July 1972||Jazz Band EBCD 2145-2|
|2002||Cool Christy (compilation, 1945-1951)||Proper Records Ltd|
|2012||Something Cool - 101 Essential June Christy||AP Music Ltd|
|1949||Adventures in Jazz||Unknown|
|1949||Art Ford Show||Unknown|
|1949||Eddie Condon's Floor Show||Unknown|
|1950||The Alan Young Show||Unknown|
|1950||Jack Carter Show||Unknown|
|3/7/1953||The Jackie Gleason Show||Unknown|
|1955||The Tonight Show with Steve Allen||Unknown|
|9/3/1956||Stars of Jazz||Unknown|
|7/9/1957||Nat King Cole Show||I Want to Be Happy; How High the Moon|
|12/30/1957||Timex All Star Jazz||I Want to be Happy|
|3/3/1958||Stars of Jazz||Get Happy; That's All|
|6/2/1958||Stars of Jazz||I Want to Be Happy; That's All|
|10/1/1959||Playboy's Penthouse||How High the Moon; I Want to Be Happy; Something Cool|
|11/23/1959||The Steve Allen Plymouth Show||Midnight Sun; Medley with Steve and Mel|
|9/10/1962||The Steve Allen Playhouse||Midnight Sun; Willow Weep for Me|
|2/11/1963||One O'Clock Show||Unknown|
|8/8/1963||The Lively Ones||I'll Take Romance; Midnight Sun|
|2/24/1965||The Mike Douglas Show||Unknown|
|6/2/1965||Not Only But Also||You Came a Long Way From St. Louis; Just in Time; Remind Me; My Shining Hour|
|8/12/1965||Mike Douglas Show||Unknown|
|11/8/1967||The Joey Bishop Show||Unknown|
|2/20/1968||Woody Woodbury Show||A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening; My Shining Hour; Midnight Sun (with Stan Kenton)|
|6/30/1972||The Dick Cavett Show||A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening; Remind Me; My Shining Hour|
|1972||Words & Music by Bobby Troup (with Stan Kenton)||The Meaning of the Blues; Hey Daddy; Lonely Girl|