Search Manic Mark's Blog

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Most Unusual Joan Toliver

Feeling Good
In The Name Of Love
The Most Unusual Joan Toliver
Arranged and Conducted by Jimmy Jones
Executive Producer: Fred Weintraub
Philips promotional copy PHM 200-186

Trumpets: Joe Newman, Ernie Royal, Bill Berry
Alto Sax: Phil Woods, Charlie Mariano
Drums: Bobby Donaldson, Grady Tate, Osie Johnson
Tenor Sax: Jerome Richardson
Bass: Milt Hinton, Richard Davis, Art Davis
Baritone Sax: Danny Bank, Romeo Pengue
Singers: Dee Warrick, Cissy Houston, Sylvia Shemwell, Estelle Brown
Trombone: Jimmy Cleveland
Guitar: Kenny Burrell, Wally Richardson, Carly Lynch
Piano: Paul Griffin

From the back cover: I think Joan Toliver's native ability is very unique. This album was a tremendous change-over from what she had been doing. I (Jimmy Jones) gave very little indication of my musical intentions, but her reaction under pressure was great. It's talent of this sort that grows of its own beauty.

The above back cover copy suggests that Toliver was thrown into the session with little preparation. Toliver's management should have sorted this one out before she signed to make this record. However, after reading the Billboard article (below), perhaps the approach wasn't completely unexpected by Toliver whose act, in 1965, was to preform a variety styles.

Toliver does her best to interoperate "blues", "country", "pop" and "pop-rock". The results sound a bit "forced" on some tracks. However, we are offered a glimpse at what the album could have been if Jones, Toliver or her management had arranged a set based on this track (In The Name Of Love). A more blues/jazz orieneted album would have been thematically solid and very cool.

Even the album title suggests that the producer didn't know how to market the set.

The Phillips art department understood the strength of the Toliver sound and provided an excellent cover that captures the best of Toliver's appeal.

Information on Toliver is limited, but I found the below 1965 Billboard article/review written shortly after this album was released. The story suggests that Toliver came from a "folk"tradition.

Exhibiting nothing of her folk formula of yore, Joan Toliver stepped off her opening show Wednesday night (29) at the Bitter End with a blues - feeling song "Squeeze Me." She was supported by a six-man band (the size of the group being an oddity for the Fred Weintraub nightclub) that was also very bluesy. In fact, her last album for Philips Records was blues oriented. But whether she sing folk songs or blues material, the packed nightclub was proof that she has a large and enthusiastic audience.

"One Room Paradise," a good song sung with feeling and verve, was one of her best numbers of the night; it was polished and extremely commercial. She put a lot of atmosphere of old New Orleans into "Old Rocking Chair's Got Me" and "Trouble In Mind".

"I'm Traveling Light" was not only delivered excellently by Miss Toliver, but the flute trailing through the background made the song a standout. She closed with a very effective "Endlessly."

Throughout the entire performance, she exhibited that husky voice her folk fans might remember, but it appears that a new Toliver has come on the scene.


  1. I remember her as the opening act for Harry Belefonte. Fantastic voice and her rendition of "a hundred miles" was awesome.


Howdy! Thanks for leaving your thoughts!