First selection of early works by one of the most excellent Italian female voices. Stunning interpretations of timeless jazz classics like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, “Blues In The Night”, “Night And Day” or “One For My Baby”, all songs from her sought after vinyl EPs “Jula In Jazz” and “Jula In Jazz 2″ (recorded 1958 and 1959) plus further rare tracks from the first half of the 1960s, accompanied by legendary ensembles like Quartetto Lelio Luttazzi, Trio Franco Cerri or the orchestra of Giampiero Boneschi. Eleven carefully remastered tracks, still considered a vocal myth today, on a new compilation with unreleased photos from the collection of Jula plus new liner notes.
Jula (pronounced “Yula”) de Palma was born in Milan on April 21, 1931. Her given name is Jolanda Maria de Palma but everybody called her Jula and the nickname would also be her name as a singer. Despite her immediate success as an actress, it is her passion for singing and especially for jazz and for American songs that will lead Jula to another branch of the entertainment world. By chance, one day in 1948, while shopping for records with her mother and her sister, she meets an Italian singer, Teddy Reno. He is also the owner of a Record Company, the CGD. Jula’s mother mentions to him her daughter’s contralto voice, her passion for jazz and for the French new wave of songs, and her admiration for Mo. Lelio Luttazzi, a young and very talented pianist and conductor, under contract with the CGD. Almost as a joke, Teddy makes an appointment for Jula to audition with Lelio Luttazzi. The audition turns into a jam session and immediately afterwards, Teddy Reno signs the young singer with CGD.
In January 1949, Ms. de Palma debuts on the Italian radio – RAI – singing the very popular French song “La Vie En Rose” in French. For the first two years of her career, Jula will record only French songs.: she loves them and she feels very much at ease singing them, partially because she’s fluent in French, a language she learned as a child from her mother, a professor of French and English. She takes part in many popular musical shows on the Italian radio, with orchestras conducted by Luttazzi, Barzizza, Savina, Kramer, Trovajoli and other musicians. She doesn’t find immediate popularity because of her refined vocal art and unusual repertoire for the times, but she quickly comes to be known as the modern singer ‘par exellence’, the one who, among the Italian singers of the moment, will be considered the most admired internationally. During the early ’50s Jula de Palma wins the Grand Prix du Disque in Paris with the song “Mon Pays” by C.A. Rossi, a popular and talented young musician. She is cast in successful radio programs like “Gran Varietá”, “Nati per la musica” “Il Motivo in Maschera” (the first Italian radio show introducing Mike Bongiorno) and the first Italian singer to appear in a live show on the newly born Italian TV.
She travels extensively in Europe and has her own show at the famous night clubs “Carrol’s” and “Drap d’or” in Paris. She appears on the French TV with Gilbert Bécaud, Charles Aznavour, Line Renaud and Henry Salvador. Jula will remain consistent to her own musical preference when invited in 1955, for the first time, to the famous Festival della Canzone Italiana in Sanremo, at the time, the “temple” of the traditional song. Jula will never win the Festival of Italian Song in Sanremo, but she will always be among its protagonists, taking part in another four Festivals with songs written by young and modern musicians and paving the way for the new wave of Italian songs. She will appear very frequently on Italian TV in popular shows like “Buone vacanze”, ” Piccolo concerto” “Studio Uno” “Milleluci” etc. In 1956, Jula will be the leading lady, with Ugo Tognazzi and Raimondo Vianello, of the musical comedy “Campione senza volere” by Scarnicci e Tarabusi with music by Lelio Luttazzi, touring Italy for almost a year. Over the next few years Ms.de Palma will collect the most prestigious music Prizes in her Country and cut many hit records.
Jula signs with Columbia/His Master’s Voice and Lelio Luttazzi follows her there. Her best records are from this time in her career, among them two of her favourites: “Jula In Jazz No.1″ (1958) with Lelio Luttazzi and “Jula In Jazz No.2″ (1959) with Franco Cerri. Some of the best Italian jazz soloists accompany her in these two 45EPs, both reissued on this compilation for the first time. She will have great success singing in night clubs and television shows in Athens, Madrid, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, San Paulo, Caracas, Los Angeles and, introduced by Nat King Cole, at the renowned “Tropicana” in Habana, Cuba. In 1959 her interpretation of the song “Tua”(Yours) at the Sanremo Festival has unparalleled success with audience and critics. The song finishes only fourth, but the picture of the singer is on many magazine covers and even on the first page of daily newspapers. As a matter of fact, the Italian RAI finds the song too “provocative’ and vetoes any broadcasting of it. The record sells furiously and the press has a ball. But Jula does not want her name to be mixed up in an unmerited scandal caused only by her personal and passionate interpretation of a love song. During a press conference she threatens to sue anybody who talks or writes of the incident again. Little by little the press gives up and the RAI cancels its veto.
At this point in her career Jula is no longer just a “jazz singer” to her Italian audience. She sings and records some of the most beautiful Neapolitan songs and during her concerts all over Europe she sings in Italian, Spanish, German, French and, of course, American with great success. In March 1970, one of Ms.de Palma’s dearest dreams will come true. She’ll be the first Italian singer to have a “One woman show” at the Teatro Sistina in Rome, where all the great artists she loves have appeared, from Ella Fitzgerald to Oscar Peterson, to Juliette Greco, to Tony Bennett and so on. And she will sing accompanied by a big band conducted by the great musician Gianni Ferrio (whom she calls “Genius”) with his own arrangements. The show will include a mixture of Italian songs, jazz standards, bossa nova and French ballads. The Italian Television will tape and broadcast the show at a later date, naming it “Gala Evening for Jula de Palma”. The show is ready after only a month of preparation. The RCA (Jula is recording for them now) will tape the whole concert live and will come out with an LP called “Jula al Sistina”.
The evening is memorable. “It will remain with me forever” Ms. de Palma tells the press after the show. “The flowers, the applause, the presence of so many celebrities, the wonderful orchestra and my dear Maestro Ferrio…it is all unforgettable!” The record of “Jula al Sistina” is a hit and RCA will follow with a second one called “Jula presenta”. These vinyl records, together with the two early “Jula In Jazz” on the Columbia label, the “Hello Jula” on the Surf label (1965) and the delightful “Whisky and Dixie” (that Jula recorded in 1967 with The New Orleans Jazz Band conducted by Carlo Loffredo for the Cetra label) are now among the most precious and sought after collector’s items on the Internet. In the following years Jula will tour with her show throughout Italy and will make frequent appearences on TV, her favourite medium. In 1974, celebrating the 25th anniversary of her career, Jula makes the decision to conclude it. She had promised herself in that faraway 1949, to leave the stage while at the top. No “Good-bye Gala”, no big announcements. In 2001, Paolo Limiti invited Jula to be a guest of honour on his popular TV program “Ci vediamo in TV”. Jula accepted, considering this only a visit and not a come-back. It was a beautifully emotional appearance. The press, the audience, everybody gave her a wonderful welcome.
Ms.de Palma was the only Italian singer who was on the same level with the great American and French entertainers of her time, singing the same songs in the same languages, but never copying, always being an original. Her modernization of the Italian song paved the way for a new generation of Italian singers after her to be accepted internationally, and she is recognized by many for this achievement. She is happy and grateful for the spontaneous creation of a website about her by young and enthusiastic people and she says “When I punch in “Jula de Palma” and I see my name come up, thirty years after I stopped singing, on the most faraway websites of the world, I am still surprised.” She shouldn’t be, because Jula de Palma is still considered, today, a myth.
01. Pennies From Heaven
02. Night And Day
03. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
04. The Nearness Of You
05. Che Cosa C’e
06. Just One Of Those Things
07. I Left My Heart In San Francisco
08. Cheek To Cheek
09. Blues In The Night
10. One For My Baby
11. Un Vecchio Dixieland
12. Everything Happens To Me
13. 1000 Ragazzi Fa
14. My Man (Mon Homme)
The album Jula De Palma “Jula In Jazz” (Sonorama) is going to be released April 29, 2011.