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Sadly, this is only the eighth album by jazz vocalist Carla White in the past 23 years, and her first in six. Long-acclaimed for her style and voice by colleagues and fans, White has indeed created a minor masterpiece in A Voice In The Night which will hopefully rectify the situation.
Originally from Oakland, California and raised in Bellport, Long Island, White travelled to London, where she attended the prestigious Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Back in New York in the early 1970s, she studied under pianist Lennie Tristano for four years, and upon his death in 1978, she continued with his protege, Warne Marsh. Her recording career as a leader has almost been entirely on independent labels. In addition, she has made many appearances as a guest vocalist on jazz combo recordings.
White's skills are revealed on both the ballads and the few up-tempo tracks. Few jazz singers know how to elongate the lyrics of a ballad better than she does, as exemplified by the Schwartz and Dietz piece "You And the Night and The Music" or Mancini's "Charade." How about her sensual take on Warren and Dubin's "Sweet and Slow"! I wonder what a collaboration between White and the 1960-ish Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band might have sounded like.
White's other pleasurable talent is her elegant manner of scatting. On the Wes Montgomery tune "Four on Six," which is not heard nearly enough, Carla White provides a delicious scat reading; she also excels in swinging the Mose Allison piece "Your Mind is on Vacation." More pleasures abound on her version of Jobim's "I Still Love You," which you may recall as "Zingaro."
The ensemble has been well-chosen: special guest Claudio Roditi provides both trumpet (muted or open) and flugelhorn support; the ubiquitous Matt Wilson provides terrific shading and textures on drums; and guitarist John Hart takes the place of a piano, also delivering some appropriately sensitive and swinging solos.
Track Listing: Time On My Hands; It's Kind of Lonesome Out Tonight; You and The Night and The Music;
Charade; Four On Six; May I Come In?; I Still Love You; Sweet and Slow; Your Mind Is On
Vacation; What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?; Peace of Mind; I Had No Time To Hate;
I'll Never Pass This Way Again.
Personnel: Carla White: voice; John Hart: electric and acoustic guitar; Dean Johnson: bass; Matt Wilson:
drums, music box; Claudio Roditi: trumpet, flugelhorn.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.