Susan King – Morning

24th August 2021 · 1960s, 1963, 1970s, Blues, Jazz, Music, Soul

This may be the most extraordinary discovery I’ve stumbled upon.
It was recorded in 1963 but its psych-tinged blend of jazz, soul and blues is way ahead of its time.

You could imagine hearing that Arab-flavoured sax and that lazy shuffling beat on a hip-hop record – perhaps by the Wu Tang Clan.

The singer is Susan King, born Nora Lee King, a blues singer of some renown in the New York City of the 1930s and early 1940s, performing under a bewildering array of pseudonyms including Lenore KInsey, Susan Lenore and – after her marriage to Larry Lucie, as Nora Lee King Lucie.

Lucie, who produced this and released it on his own label Toy Records, was a jazz guitarist whose claims to fame include being the last man alive to have played with Jelly Roll Morton – and the last to have performed with Duke Ellington at The Cotton Club – at the time of his death in 2009 at the ripe old age of 101.

In the 1940s Lucie, who had also played on records by Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins and Louis Armstrong, met guitarist, bassist vocalist and composer Nora Lee King – known professionally as Lenore or Susan King – and hired her to play with him in a group called The Lucienaires. They married in 1948, staying together until her death in 1995.

Both were in their 50s at the time this was released; they toured Europe in the 1980s and ’90s (when they were in their own 80s) with the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band. After King’s death, Lucie continued to perform in jazz clubs, playing solo guitar, until he was 99.

Please listen to this – it’s timeless and incredible.