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  See and hear Carmen
  Grove Dictionary

  Miss Jazz
  NY Times Obit

  Ralph Gleason
  Carol Sloane
  Hammond Guthrie

  Interview by Art Taylor

Complete List of Original Albums


  1940s, 50s
  1960s, cont'd

Starter Set

10 Recommended

Film, Television, Radio

Friends and Fans


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Buddah, Concord, Denon, GAMH, Novus


I’m Coming Home Again, 1981
With an all-star cast of musicians including Hank Crawford on alto saxophone, Freddy Hubbard on trumpet and flugelhorn, Hubert Laws on flutes. Grover Washington, Jr. on soprano saxophone, Buster Williams on bass. Plus twelve strings and background voices.

At the opposite end of the jazz spectrum from her trio albums, this is one of Carmen’s best recordings, every song ((gleaned from the contemporary repertoire rather than the standard songbook) a gem delivered with emotion and verve.  Example: "I Won't Last a Day Without You."

Reissued on CD by Unidisc in 1994
Reissued under the title Ms. Magic by DCC


Live at Bubba’s, 1981
Recorded at Bubba's in Ft. Lauderdale with Marshall Otwell on piano, bassist Jim Anderson, and drummer Mark Pulice.

"The album, recorded the last night of a two-week engagement, is a potpourri of Carmen McRae, with her mesmerizing style that flirts with the melody of every turn, but still keeps a jazzy distance. Two highlights stand out in a glittering evening: 'Send in the Clowns"' and 'New York State of Mind.' Each presents a different side of the singer who has never forsaken her jazz roots despite repeated commercial pressure to dilute her music for a mass market."
, Jazz Critic, The Miami Herald. From liner notes.


Two for the Road, with George Shearing, 1980
Most of the works on this CD are gems from the Great American Songbook, including a jaunty take of "Gentleman Friend," which has some lively scatting, and the moving ballad "If I Should Lose You."

Reissued on CD in 1992 (with a different cover).

Heat Wave, with Cal Tjader, 1982
Tjader leads an eight piece band that includes Poncho Sanchez on congas and percussion.

"This is not simply a Brazilian anthology. It has a merengue cut ("Love"), touches of cha-cha, mamba and other rhythmic subdivisions that come under the heading of Latin Americana...Another source of the production’s success is the wide-ranging choice of songs, - from unfamiliar melodies to old standards and new material gleaned from Latin, pop, jazz and rock sources."   Example:  "Besame Mucho"
from liner notes.

Reissued on CD in 1982

You’re Lookin’ at Me, a collection of Nat King Cole songs, 1983

With Marshall Otwell on piano, John Leftwich on bass, Donald Bailey on drums, and John Collins on guitar.
Carmen sings songs associated with the great pianist/singer, such as "I’m and Errand Girl for Rhythm" and "Sweet Lorraine."  Example: Title song.

Reissued on CD in 1990

Live at Birdland West, 1988
Live with Jack MdDuff on organ, John Clayton on bass, Paul Humphrey on drums, Red Holloway on saxophones, and Phil Upchurch on guitar.

"This is a total jazz recording, not just an accompanied singer’s album. Soloists, as well as the singer, stay mellow, never competing or trying to overpower. (Example: 'Fine and Mellow') Carmen lets her hair down with 'My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More.'"
from liner notes.

Reissued on CD in 1988

Concord Reissues and Collections

Ballad Essentials, Concord, 1999
This compilation contains tracks from each of Carmen’s Concord releases, making for a varied collection of Carmen’s specialty, ballads.


Any Old Time, 1987
The session was held in New York on June 23, 1986 with her trio - Eric Gunnison on piano, Scott Colley on bass, Mark Pulice on drums - with Clifford Jordan on tenor saxophone, and John Collins on guitar.

"Because of the unlimited affection we Japanese fans of jazz vocal have for Carmen, 1986 was a special wonderful year for us –not only because of this fine album Any Old Time, but also because we had not one but two chances to see her here in Japan in person. The first was during her performance tour in April; then, four months later in August, she performed at the Mr. Fuji Jazz Festival ’86. In that scenic location with Mt. Fuji and Lake Yamanaka as background, she excited the audience of thousands.
October, 1986 from liner notes.

Issued on CD, 1993
Reissued by Columbia, 2005


Duets, Carmen McRae-Betty Carter, 1988

With pianist Eric Gunnison, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Winard Harper.
"Both Carmen McRae and Betty Carter show a lot of good humor during their duets, cracking occasional jokes and often jamming quite spontaneously. (Example: "What's New?") With suitable support from her trio along with a very enthusiastic audience at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, Carter usually takes vocal honors while McRae comes up with the most humorous lines. Some of the ensembles are ragged but this encounter is overall quite successful. The CD reissue adds three previously unreleased selections that feature McRae without Carter." – SCOTT YANOW

Issued on both LP and CD by GAMH in 1994
Reissued on CD by Verve in 1996 with a new cover.


Carmen Sings Monk. 1990
With tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, pianist Eric Gunnison, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Al Foster.

"'Dear Ruby (Ruby, My Dear)' and 'Listen to Monk (Rhythm-A-Ning)' are among the highpoints of the essential and very delightful CD. An inspired idea and one of the best recordings of Carmen McRae's career." - SCOTT YANOW

Issued on LP and CD by Novus in 1990

Sarah—Dedicated To You, 1991
With the Shirley Horn trio: Shirley on piano, Charles Ables on electric bass and Steve Williams on drums.

Issued on CD in 1991.
Reissued on Bluebird, 2003

"I consider myself a very fortunate woman. I have lived in an era that contained Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. Tho 'Lady' has always been my mentor, 'Sass"' was also a phenomenon. She took the art of improvisation and did it better than anybody. Plus Sarah was blessed with the best voice ever. I, like many others, have always considered the human voice to be another instrument. And no one proved that better than Sarah. What glorious sounds she made!!! What great happiness she gave!
This album doesn’t "say" everything I wanted to about her. In addition to 'Sarah,' (the lovely tune written by Carroll Coates as a tribute to 'Sass'), I tried to choose songs that she gave her love to such as 'Tenderly" and 'Misty,' along with others that were not as closely connected with Sarah. All good songs, tho. She had impeccable taste.
We met many years ago and hung out 'a lot.' She was a dear friend. I am honored to have the opportunity to pay homage to such a great lady. (I miss you, Sass.)
Recording this album with the remarkable Shirley Horn Trio shows how "good things come to those who wait." Shirley is another truly gifted artist and I have always wanted to record with her. Who can accompany a singer better than a singer who accompanies herself? I asked her to sing on the album but she refused, so don’t blame me! (That would make a great title for a song.) Thanks, Shirl, you were perfect as usual."  
 Love, Carmen
- CARMEN MCRAE, from liner notes.

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