Chris Connor, 81, the great jazz singer whose lush, foggy voice and compressed emotional intensity distilled a 1950s jazz reverie of faraway longing in a sad cafe, died of cancer Saturday in Toms River, N.J.
A singer who used little vibrato and was admired for her inventive rhythmic alterations of ballads, Connor belonged to the cool school of jazz singers that included Anita O'Day, June Christy, Chet Baker and Julie London.
In her finest records, she conveyed the sound of a singer rapt in a romantic spell. Both O'Day and Christy, whom she emulated, preceded her as vocalists with the Stan Kenton band, which she joined briefly in 1952, replacing Christy. Connor had earlier sung with the Claude Thornhill band.
During her solo recording career, which began in 1953, Connor had only two charted hits: "I Miss You So" (1956) and "Trust In Me" (1957), both for Atlantic Records. But for jazz vocal aficionados, her signature song, "All About Ronnie," Joe Greene's smoldering ballad of romantic obsession, is a pop-jazz milestone of dreamy cool.
NEW YORK TIMES