Barbara Carroll: Barbara at Birdland (2005)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
A subtle Jay Leonhart bass bridge from Harold Arlen's classic "Blues in the Night" segues into the enchanting melody of "You and the Night and the Music" after a tension-building piano/bass/cymbal opener. Such is the stuff that legendary pianist Barbara Carroll brings together on Live at Birdland. Recorded at the NYC venue with her first-call rhythm section rounded out by drummer Joe Cocuzzo, a hit parade of standards is given new life by tempo changes and mood-inducing arrangements that swing, bop and thrill. At times there is the touch of a chamber feel, especially when Leonhart uses his bow.
With a NYC jazz career that spans over a half century, Carroll can still draw on her classical training, jazzy originality and musical savvy to infuse a melody with new juice; her fusion of Rodgers and Sondheim's "Do I Hear a Waltz?" with variations on Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" is magical. A mistress of style, a superb technician and creative improviser, Carroll's playing remains effortless and her vocals add a new dimension to familiar tunes like "You're Driving Me Crazy" and "Fly Me to the Moon." A solo piano rendition of the lesser known Arlen gem, "Don't Like Good-byes," is a movingly beautiful experience, while the dreamy blues feel of "Mood Indigo" and the lightly sophisticated wishfulness of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" are enhanced by the trio's unhurried interpretations. "Old Friends" is an apt closer as Carroll's vocal on Sondheim's paean to comradery captures the relationship among this city, its first lady of jazz piano and her music.
Track Listing: 1.You And The Night And The Music 2.Stella By Starlight 3.You're Driving Me Crazy 4.Do I Hear A Waltz/The Jitterbug Waltz 5.I'm In Love Again 6.You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To 7.Don't Like Goodbyes 8.Fly Me To The Moon 9.Mood Indigo 10.Old Friends
Personnel: Barbara Carroll-piano, vocals; Jay Leonhart-bass; Joe Cocuzzo-drums
Record Label: Harbinger