Carla White La Belle Epoque (New York) October 12, 1997 Roseanna Vitro Birdland (New York) October 7, 1997 It’s insane that a jazz singer as superb as Carla White hasn’t been documented consistently by labels, but then, she’s hardly the first major talent A&R folks haven’t had the wisdom to get behind. Known for her sultry, smokey voice, White was in excellent form during a recent “Sunday afternoon brunch” at La Belle Epoquea French restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village. For the most part, she favored a comfortable, relaxed tempo that served her well on everything from “Indian Summer” to Ellington’s “In A Mellow Tone.” But when she increased the tempo for a wordless interpretation of Wes Montgomery’s “Four On Six,” White reminded us that she’s one of the most creative scat singers around.White’s sympathetic trio included bassist Martin Wind, drummer Tim Horner and pianist Bill Cunliffe (who has been writing the East Coast Connection column for L.A. Jazz Scene). White was in the audience when a very different but no less impressive singer, Roseanna Vitro, headlined New York’s Birdland several days earlier. In contrast to White’s smokiness and frequent use of restraint, Vitro is a big voiced belter who likes her jazz earthy and funky. Most of Vitro’s set found the Texan (by way of Arkansas and now, The Apple) paying tribute to Ray Charles, and when she tore into such classics as “One Mint Julep” and “Lonely Avenue,” it was obvious that she was the right one for the job. Quite appropriately, her quintet included tenor great David “Fathead” Newman, who spent many years with Charles. And she had an equally strong soloist in trumpeter Eddie Henderson.
Reprinted with the permission of Myrna Daniels and L.A. Jazz Scene, the largest jazz publication in Southern California.