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Helen Merrill: Jelena Ana Milcetic a.k.a. Helen Merrill

The title refers to the name Helen Merrill was born with. She’s the daughter of immigrant parents from the Croatian island of Krk, on which many old cultural characteristics have been preserved. This CD is a tribute to Merrill’s roots, in part. It’s aesthetically successful due to her major efforts and those of Gil Goldstein and Torrie Zito, who were involved in arranging and adapting some of the selections. Not all of the material is from Croatia, some tunes are pop and folk ballads from elsewhere: “Long, Long Ago,” “La Paloma,” “Wayfarin’ Stranger,” “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” There are also versions of Weill/Anderson’s “Lost in the Stars” and Judy Collins’ “My Father.” The feeling throughout the album is one of warm, but not schmaltzy, nostalgia.

Actually, Merrill doesn’t appear on all tracks. There’s a movement from a kirje performed by the Lado Folk Dance and Music Ensemble of Croatia, and “Tanac,” done by two sopila (a kind of Croatian oboe) players and soprano saxman Steve Lacy.

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