I helped check in the incredible collection that makes up Jim Copeland’s Crush on Vinyl Ultimate Audiophile Archive Auction (coming this May). It took several days to go through the many boxes of classic vinyl, but the long process proved helpful a month later when it was time to catalog the titles for auction.
As a classic jazz fan, it was a genuine thrill to touch the first pressings of historic releases from such iconic labels as Blue Note and Prestige. It was an overwhelming but often exhilarating experience to hold original albums from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, and dozens of other influential artists from the height of the vinyl era. Handling so many rare and classic albums, I was a bit surprised by my visceral reaction to a title that at first glance was by some anonymous torch singer. The cover of the album featured a woman posed alluringly on a staircase with half of her silhouette obscured by darkness. It’s Late, the album’s title, in elegant lowercase text and floating on either side of her seemed both a statement and a provocative invitation. It was a striking image like other seductive album covers from the period suggesting a romantic sonic mood. But this cover was different. This “come on” felt more romantic and inferred a story; this was a cinematic seduction with a character in mid-scene.
Then I noticed the name of the artist: Ilene Woods – a name etched into my memory as the voice of Disney’s Cinderella. The 1950 film and its Oscar-nominated soundtrack were staples of my childhood – and one of the few Disney scores that I put in my pocket and carried with me into adulthood. Of the six songs written for the film, Woods performed three; “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” “Sing Sweet Nightingale,” and “So this is Love” – all delivered in her hypnotic cadence. Though vaguely familiar with the singer/actress through her association with the film, I wasn’t aware that she had ever recorded a solo album.
After researching her career, I was disappointed to learn that although she had been involved in a few Disney recording projects, It’s Late (from 1957) was her only studio album. I immediately sought out the recording online and was once again enchanted by her warm, lilting delivery. I was also pleased to find that the album was a true tonal companion to the music in Cinderella – with lush arrangements by jazz pianist Bill Clifton. In fact, “It’s a Blue World,” “If I Love Again,” and “It’s Late” sound like lost demos from that animated classic. While it is disheartening that the gifted Woods didn’t record more music, it’s nice that her fans have a full album of songs to discover and enjoy. Like the beloved heroine, a hidden glass slipper we’ve been allowed to keep…