Billie Poole: Confessin’ the Blues

I don’t know what happened to Billie Poole, but when this set was issued in 1962 it seemed to promise a bright future, especially since Orrin Keepnews had backed her with a fine quartet composed of Kenny Burrell, Junior Mance, Bob Cranshaw and Mickey Roker. Plenty of experience can be heard in their accompaniment. Ms. Poole’s singing is rough-edged and rather more appropriate to real blues than to blues-flavored pop songs and items like “God Bless the Child.” Authenticity of accent and vocal quality combine to make her versions of Bessie Smith’s “Jailhouse Blues” and Big Bill Broonzy’s “Keep Your Hand on Your Heart” the most convincing tracks, although she conveys a strong gospel feeling on Ray Charles’ “Ain’t That Love?.”