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Carol McCartney: Be Cool

Edward Blanco By

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Toronto native Carol McCartney records another impressive vocal statement on the breezy Be Cool cementing her reputation as one of Canada's finest jazz vocalist and building on the foundation established from her critically-acclaimed debut Night In Tunisia (CDBaby, 2007). Though presenting a selection of primarily familiar standards from the jazz cannon, the Joni-Mitchell pop tune title track is an exception to this rule and is transformed into a jazz song with a clever arrangement from pianist Brian Dickinson who—along with others like Rick Wilkins, Paul Keller, Brian Wray and McCartney herself—all pen arrangement designed to feature the songstress' crisp smooth vocals with the support of an amazing ensemble.

Drummer Terry Clarke introduces the Kern/Mercer standard "I'm Old Fashioned" with the vocalist quickly engaging and the band weighing in on a swinging version of the classic punctuated by terrific solos from saxophonist Chris Robinson, Clarke and firm background bass work from Kieran Overs. McCartney shines on the soft ballad "For Heaven's Sake," arranged by Dickinson, the pianist also shares the limelight here with gorgeous piano lines however, it's the leader who delivers the memorable lines. The oft-recorded jazz standard "Yesterday" takes another turn with this McCartney-arranged rendition featuring guitarist Lorne Lofsky and the pianist with vibrant solo moments.

There's plenty of swinging material on the disc and one of the pieces living up to that measure is "Ev'rything I've Got (Belongs to You) which brings the flugelhorn voice of Mike Malone to the forefront. The other beautiful warm spot of the album has to be the romantic Bergman/Mandel song "Solitary Moon" which McCartney sings to the heart with a little help from Robinson's tenor. Offering fresh new arrangement of "Just You Just Me," "S' Wonderful" and "More Than You Know," McCartney's vocal presentation of the classics make them sound almost like new.

The bluesy "West Coast Blues" and the upbeat perky "Almost Twelve" are other highlights not to be missed and warrant repeated spins. Though it's been awhile since her last recording, Carol McCartney's Be Cool is truly an astonishing vocal jazz project well worth the wait. Containing beautiful love songs, swinging tunes, excellent instrumentals, and mesmerizing vocals, this is one enchanting album that's cool by any definition.

Track Listing: Be Cool; I'm Old Fashioned; For Heaven's Sake; Tulip or Turnip; Yesterdays; Ev'rything I've Got (Belongs to You); Solitary Moon; Just You Just Me; S' Wonderful; West Coast Blues; Almost Twelve; More Than You Know.

Personnel: Carol McCartney: vocals; Brian Dickinson: piano; Lorne Lofsky: guitar; Kieran Overs: bass; Terry Clarke: drums; Chris Robinson: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Mike Malone: flugelhorn.

Title: Be Cool | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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