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George Carroll & His Sarasota Sunsets Big Band: Life Is Better

Jack Bowers By

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As a follow–up to his well–received earlier album, Life Is Good, singer George Carroll has produced Life Is Better, using on most numbers his Sarasota Sunsets big band for support. Carroll has a likable voice, midway between tenor and baritone, but his intonation and pacing are sometimes less than precise, weaknesses that are most conspicuous on the ballads, and he is undermined by the recording itself whose excessive reverb makes him sound as though he were performing inside an empty cathedral (which, of course, he may have been). Of the fourteen selections on Life Is Better, the first eight are well–known standards, the last half–dozen originals presumably written by Carroll who included a number of his compositions on Life Is Good. On four of them, Carroll employs a smaller group that, surprisingly, all but overwhelms him with its intemperately recorded sound on “Till I Found You.” On the others, he comes through more or less loud and clear. Stylistically, Carroll favors such popular troubadors as Sinatra, Vic Damone and Tony Bennett but is a substantial distance removed from their level of proficiency. On the other hand, he is doing what he loves as well as he can, and one must applaud him for that. And if he is a more impressive writer than singer, we certainly can’t hold that against him either. Carroll’s back–up ensemble, some of whose members were perhaps recruited from the Florida–based Dan McMillion, Dennis Noday and / or Altamonte Springs big bands, with all of whom Carroll has performed, plays respectably throughout while submitting a handful of brief yet effective solos by trumpets and reeds. Life Is Better is a generally respectable scrapbook but one that is hard to recommend because of its substandard recording quality and Carroll’s earnest but often erratic vocalizing.

Contact:George W. Carroll, 742 Birdsong Lane, Sarasota, FL 34242. Phone 941–346–1589; fax 941–346–2191; e–mail moongirl5@juno.com or moongirl5@prodigy.net


Track Listing: Sophisticated Lady; One for My Baby; Dreamsville; Willow Weep for Me; It Don

Personnel: George Carroll, leader, vocals; other personnel unlisted.

Title: Life Is Better | Year Released: 2001


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