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 Foolish Things Remind Me of You, I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance, More Than You Know, It Will Have To Do (Until the Real Thing Comes Along) and If I Should Lose You without a trace of false sentimentality. Pianist George Shearing, Jack McDuff (Hammond B3), Cal Tjader (vibes) and Red Holloway (tenor) are a few of the musicians that provide support at various times. A good place to start for those unfamiliar with Carmen McRae. I would also highly recommend The Great American Songbook [live] (Atlantic). Classy stuff from a classy lady. (###)
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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