A subtle Jay Leonhart bass bridge from Harold Arlen's classic "Blues in the Night" segues into the enchanting melody of "You and the Night and the Music" after a tension-building piano/bass/cymbal opener. Such is the stuff that legendary pianist Barbara Carroll brings together on Live at Birdland. Recorded at the NYC venue with her first-call rhythm section rounded out by drummer Joe Cocuzzo, a hit parade of standards is given new life by tempo changes and mood-inducing arrangements that swing, bop and thrill. At times there is the touch of a chamber feel, especially when Leonhart uses his bow.
With a NYC jazz career that spans over a half century, Carroll can still draw on her classical training, jazzy originality and musical savvy to infuse a melody with new juice; her fusion of Rodgers and Sondheim's "Do I Hear a Waltz?" with variations on Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" is magical. A mistress of style, a superb technician and creative improviser, Carroll's playing remains effortless and her vocals add a new dimension to familiar tunes like "You're Driving Me Crazy" and "Fly Me to the Moon." A solo piano rendition of the lesser known Arlen gem, "Don't Like Good-byes," is a movingly beautiful experience, while the dreamy blues feel of "Mood Indigo" and the lightly sophisticated wishfulness of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" are enhanced by the trio's unhurried interpretations. "Old Friends" is an apt closer as Carroll's vocal on Sondheim's paean to comradery captures the relationship among this city, its first lady of jazz piano and her music.
Track Listing: 1.You And The Night And The Music 2.Stella By Starlight 3.You're Driving Me Crazy 4.Do I Hear A Waltz/The Jitterbug Waltz 5.I'm In Love Again 6.You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To 7.Don't Like Goodbyes 8.Fly Me To The Moon 9.Mood Indigo 10.Old Friends
Personnel: Barbara Carroll-piano, vocals; Jay Leonhart-bass; Joe Cocuzzo-drums
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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