See and hear Carmen
NY Times Obit
RECORDINGS - 1960s
Columbia, Focus, Mainstream
"It was at this time, the early 60s, when she developed her individuality. Her voice was inseparable from her style and her feeling for the essence of songs."
– NORMAN SIMMONS, Carmen’s accompanist /music director from 1961-69
In London, Ember, released by Kapp, 1962
With Don Abney on piano, Phil Seaman on drums, and Kenny Napper on bass.
Recorded live at the legendary Flamingo Jazz Club in London.
Carmen does her best to warm up the reserved English audience with
a selection of classic songs from the American songbook.
Tonight Only With The Dave Brubeck Quartet, 1960
The Real Ambassadors, w/Louis Armstrong, 1962
– SCOTT YANOW from allmusic.com Example: "You Swing for Me."
Lover Man, tribute to Billie Holiday, 1961
"She could really draw an audience into her songs. The key was her love
affair with words and even syllables. Carmen could bring out the emotions
behind the words of a lyric - a sense of joy or pain – just by the way she
delivered a line. In the song
she emphasized the negative –
"don’t" – that stopped the line in its tracks. Then she emphasized another
word in the next line, and "lover" in the next. She practically bites her
lip to say "lover," and she subtly repeated the beginning consonants of a
word to serve as her improvisation. That trick of enunciation underscored
the meaning of a word and filled it with emotion."
Something Wonderful, 1963
"Carmen McRae made many worthwhile albums during her long career, but
this session of mostly melancholy ballads never received the exposure it
deserved, possibly because it was done for Mort Fega’s small independent
label, Focus…Fortunately, Koch had the wisdom to reissue this lost treasure,
and it easily ranks among Carmen McRae's best recordings."
Reissued on CD by Koch Jazz, 2002
In Person, (first issued by TIME under the title Live at
Sugar Hill), 1963
"Most critics praise Carmen McRae: Live at Sugar Hill as a
milestone in her career…This was the first album, Norman Simmons thought, on
which Carmen’s true personality blossomed. She did exactly what she wanted.
No one handed her songs and told her what to do with them. It had happened
often that record companies asked her to record songs she had never seen
before going into the studio, and she didn’t really feel familiar enough
with them. But Bobby Shad of Mainstream was the Artists and Repertoire man
for Live at Sugar Hill. He allowed Carmen to hire her own musicians
and to choose her own songs and plan every moment of the recording. She
sounded more relaxed and natural than ever before on records, talking and
rapping with audiences. The album captured the style she had achieved in
clubs when she nurtured her loyal following." -
LESLIE GOURSE, from
Carmen McRae, Ms. Jazz
ELive and Doin’ It, 1965
Second to None, 1964 with orchestra
Haven’t We Met, 1965 with orchestra
Woman Talk, Live at the Village Gate, 1966
"Carmen had complete control. She slowed words down and trailed off on
others. She spent time milking each word that could be milked. And she might
scat upward on a word to imply that the lyric was aiming at a heavenly
feeling. She sang "again and again and again," to emphasize the lovemaking
in a lyric. She could pick up the tempo in a song so that it sounded like
the rapid beating of her heart, and she could change lyrics to get her point
across, singing "groove" instead of "leads" – and "scurry" instead of "run,"
and praise the hipness of the "cat" being too close for comfort. She could
honk or bray a hard-edged, piercing line or word and end it a whimsical,
airy syllable."- NORMAN SIMMONS
Carmen McRae, 1964 Orchestra Recordings, 2006, Lonehill
Alive! (reissue of Woman Talk and Live and
Wailing), 1994, Sony Legacy
"Carmen achieved suspense by the way she phrased lyrics. She wasn’t
just taking a breath when she left a space in a line. The space was an
emphatic pause she inserted before she delivered the next sound. The pulse
that I supplied had to be there for her all the time, but the vocal line had
to have breathing spaces – pauses, with nothing intruding. When she stopped,
I waited for her to start again. The silence became part of the music, and I
learned to leave the silences alone."
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