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Carol Sloane: Carol Sloane Live At Birdland


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Carol Sloane: Carol Sloane Live At Birdland
Was there ever a more storied exponent of the Great American Songbook than Carol Sloane? She started singing professionally at the age of fourteen, made her first recording in 1959, was the "gal singer" for Arthur Godfrey for a spell, and went on to record virtually any tune you can think of (and, more than likely, a few you cannot). Her voice, shimmering and luminous, worked especially well on ballads, but her up-tempo material was equally compelling. She sang with Ben Webster, Clark Terry, listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McRae and, like every great jazz musician, also scuffled to make a living at times. It is one of those quintessential jazz stories, and all of it comes out in her expressiveness, with a voice remarkably undiminished, albeit changed, by the years. Sloane has spent almost her entire lifetime in the music business, and Live at Birdland is a fitting monument to a remarkable career.

Sloane's repertoire here is a terrific live recording, accompanied by the late Mike Renzi (a longtime accompanist on piano), Jay Leonhart on bass and Scott Hamilton on tenor sax. Not only is her singing poised and heartfelt, as one would expect, Sloane is also a wry raconteur who knows how to work an audience. Her asides and other casual remarks in the intervals between performances are an added treat and help recreate the atmosphere of a club date. It all works very well.

Sloane made a virtue of her years by doing "I Don't Want to Walk Without You," by claiming to remember hearing it on the radio as a child. That is possible, but World War II ended when she was eight years old. Precocious talent, for sure, but the song still works for her and her listeners. "Two For The Road" is a song which turns up a lot, a relatively recent contribution to the canon. Sloane manages to evoke the story behind the song. She sings it with feeling, as if it were her own. "You're Driving Me Crazy" is the occasion of some banter between Sloane and Renzi, and gives Scott Hamilton the opportunity to play some tasteful choruses. Leonhart here, and elsewhere, is outstanding. It is one of the high points in a recording full of them, especially a medley version of "Glad to Be Unhappy/I Got A Right to Sing The Blues." And yes, she did make the last note.

There really is not much more to say about a recording that sums up a good deal of the career of a charismatic performer like Carol Sloane. Youth may be served but, sometimes, one may prefer to hear the voice of experience. It counts for something, does it not, even in a business which worships youth, novelty, and a fresh face?

Track Listing

Havin' Myself A Time; Blue Turning Grey Over You; I Don't Want To Walk Without You; As Long As I Live; Glad To Be Unhappy/I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues; If I Should Lose You; You Were Meant For Me; The Very Thought of You; You're Driving Me Crazy; Two For The Road; Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams; I'll Always Leave The Door A Little Open.


Carol Sloane: voice / vocals; Mike Renzi: piano; Jay Leonhart: bass; Scott Hamilton: saxophone, tenor.

Album information

Title: Carol Sloane Live At Birdland | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Club44

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