Helen Merrill's long history in jazz began with her first album on the Mercury Emarcy label arranged and produced by Quincy Jones in 1954 up to her latest CD album released in early 2000. In between were more then 50 Jazz albums and countless concerts, club dates, festivals and other jazz activities.
Ms. Merrill was born in New York City. Her parents were Croatian immigrants and her most recent recording is titled Jelena Ana Milcetic, AKA Helen Merrill tracing her musical experience. She started her career at the 845 club in the Bronx wile still in high school. The promoter at the club was noted for his ability to spot young future stars. Among these appearing with Helen at the time were Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Oscar Pettiford, and numerous others. The name on the marquee was Helen Milcetic, her name which she later changed to Merrill.
Ms. Merrill entered the world of music just as the big band era was ending and the much more challenging field of working with small groups had begun. During these formative years she worked with Earl Hines, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Clifford Brown, Gil Evans, Charlie Byrd, Marian McPartland, Al Haig, Jim Hall, Elvin Jones, Ron Carter, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, and literally hundreds of other musicians.
Although she has made a large number of jazz albums and knows her way around recording studios in the United States, Japan and Europe, Ms. Merrill's recording career began in a non-commercial atmosphere in the now famous Rudy Van Gelder studio in New Jersey. She was accompanied by Jimmy Rainey, Don Elliot and Red Mitchell. The result was a single that eventually led to a contract with Mercury. Without much fanfare, Mercury released a jazz album titled simply Helen Merrill