This overlooked on-location session from 1963 reveals, perhaps more than any other recording, why Carmen McRae at the time deserved to complete the dominating triumvirate in which Ella Fitzgerald's and Sarah Vaughan's places were always secure. In the 1970s the marketplace would often hamstring her choice of material and settings, and in the 1980s the years of smoking began to have a noticeable effect on the breath-stream that once sustained her enviable instrument. On this occasion, however, she retains the warm and supple vocal quality of her 1950s Bethlehem and Decca recordings while realizing all of the dramatic potential that ...read more
Carmen McRae, Miss Jazz Leslie Gourse Billboard Books ISBN: 0879306289
In recent years, we have stretched the meaning of the word diva. In the past, it brought to mind a female vocalist like Maria Callas; nowadays it encompasses much more. There are literary divas, culinary divas, you name it. While the word gets gets applied to different circumstances, the true essence of diva is still rooted in the musical world. Obviously, the great jazz singer, Carmen McRae deserves being referred to as a diva.Carmen McRae, Miss Jazz, by Leslie Gourse takes a ...read more
Carmen Sings Monk is just one of five new reissues in BMG’s First Editions series, released under the rejuvenated Bluebird Jazz label. Other titles in the series’ first offering include Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney (Fancy Meeting You Here), Coleman Hawkins (The Hawk in Hi-Fi), Charles Mingus (Tijuana Moods) and Gil Scott-Heron (Free Will). Each release features enhanced sound quality, detailed liner notes, archival photographs and in most cases, special bonus/unreleased tracks. Recorded in 1988, Carmen Sings Monk contains two live tracks recorded at The Great American Music Hall, 11 original studio tracks, and five bonus/alternative selections. Adding words to ...read more
For those who look back on the 50's as the glory days of singing never again to be equalled this music will serve either as reinforcement or as a wake-up call. Fitzgerald, Holiday, and McRae all at the same festival! (Sarah Vaughan also sang at Newport in 1957.) Career-wise all three were at the top of their profession. Pipes-wise Fitzgerald and McRae were at their peaks, but Holiday only had a semblance of her voice left. Artistically McRae and Fitzgerald were fine-tuning their approaches, leaving some of their youthful excesses behind. Holiday was at her best jazz-wise in the 30's ...read more
The great Carmen McRae’s tenure at Columbia lasted only two years (1961-1962). Most of her work for the label involved collaborations with pianist Dave Brubeck (her Take Five and his Tonight Only and The Real Ambassadors ). In fact, she recorded only two LPs and a few singles that featured material not written by Brubeck. Her first album for the label, Lover Man and Other Billie Holiday Classics, was a Lady Day tribute with a sextet featuring Norman Simmons on piano, Nat Adderly on cornet and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis on tenor saxophone. Her last project for Columbia, Something Wonderful, was ...read more
Carmen McRae has always been one of my favourite singers. Technically, she couldn’t match the vocal gymnastics of Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan, but her timing and delivery were impeccable. Ballad Essentials is a fine compilation drawn from four albums Carmen recorded for Concord in the 80s -- Fine And Mellow - Live At Birdland West, Heat Wave, Two For The Road and You're Lookin' At Me. Ballad singing was always Carmen’s strong suit -- her behind-the-beat phrasing, cynical outlook and world-weary voice could put a fresh spin on the sappiest of love songs. She delivers such classics as These ...read more
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