There must be something in the water and soil of New York City which explains why that one discrete location can be the mainspring for the planting and harvesting of the many stylish, sophisticated and elegant pianists heard on Barbara Carroll's latest release, One Morning in May.
There has been a long line of these sophisticated, stylish, elegant producers of piano music - including Buddy Weed, Cy Coleman, Jimmy Rowels, George Shearing and Bobby Short - holding audience in some cultivated lounge or room at one of the upscale hotels. Like Short, Carroll also sings, delivering lyrics in the smoky, highly personalized torch song "Can't You Do a Friend a Favor?" But the piano is the instrument where she makes her major musical statements. Once a disciple of Bud Powell, who was uptown, Carroll apparently decided that downtown was more to her liking. So over the 50 years or so that she has been recording, starting in 1949, there has been a movement away from the complexities of Powell's playing while still retaining the great pianist's elegant way with the melody line. You hear Powell influences on such tunes as "One Morning in May," "In Walked Bud," and "Zingaro." Carroll has earned the respect to be able to draw some of New York's top-notch jazz musicians into the studio with her. Ken Peplowski adds his mellow, woody clarinet on "I'm in Love Again" and tenor sax on "I Could Make You Care." Also tossed into the mix is the melodic trumpet of Randy Sandke on "Bemelman's Blues." Her rhythm section partners, Joe Cocuzzo and Jay Leonhart, are among the Big Apple's first-call drum and bass players, respectively.
One Morning in May supplies more than 65 minutes of polished, suave jazz performed by some of the best the genre has to offer. It's nice to know there are still jazz musicians like Carroll out there who can add class to the music without detracting from its improvisational base. Top-drawer stuff and highly recommended.
Personnel: Barbara Carroll - Vocals/Piano; Jay Leonhart - Bass; Joe Cocuzzo -
Drums; Ken Peplowski - Tenor Sax, Clarinet; Jay Berliner - Guitar; Randy
Sandke - Trumpet