Three types of creative authority, each springing from the same muse, characterize this disc. One is the vocal authority of Ms. Carrie Smith. The second is the piano talent of the late Sir Roland Hanna. And finally, the third is the lyric prowess of Mr. Harold Arlen.
A blues singer with a jazz singer's soul, Carrie Smith's conversational style and masculine sense of humor are a commanding presence on this disc. No better is this illustrated than on "Blues in the Night," where she injects the urban Arlen/Sinatra standard with the earthy element of Bessie Smith's "A Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer" to produce a song that is uniquely Carrie Smith. "Accentuate the Positive" is the sung like the Revelator's wail and "Stormy Weather" a plaintive, angry ballad. Smith is a consummate singer in this genre, lending the music and lyrics an authenticity of the blues.
The late Sir Roland Hanna was a pianist’s pianist. A superb accompanist, Sir Roland supported the likes of Ruth Brown and Sarah Vaughan. His playing behind a vocalist is perfection, always surprising the listener with is choice of notes and harmony, as well as rhythm and time. He is talented enough to use his generous sense of humor in his playing without ever sounding trite or inappropriate. He is superb support for Smith, never overshadowing her, but remaining her equal on the floor throughout.
Finally, Harold Arlen has provided the American Songbook with some of its most enduring songs. As an introduction to Arlen’s music, one could not ask for more than what this disc provides. This disc, along with Hanna’s Everything I Love , serves as a fitting tribute to the pianist.
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