Album Review and Recommendation: CAROL SLOANE: LIVE AT BIRDLAND (Club 44 Records)

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by Connor McCormick on June 9, 2022

in CD-DVD

SLOANE AND EASY

In 1963 Carol Sloane said, “I want to be one of these persons who have been around a long time.” Check. Did you know that Carol, singing since 1953, was one of the biggest hits at the 1961 Newport festival? Enough so that she was signed with Columbia Records. She hasn’t stopped since. Her main assets are a warmly appealing timbre, good range and secure time, all amply demonstrated in her latest release, Live at Birdland, offering 13 tunes with an astounding trio. Wait, you say? 1961? Carol who? It’s OK, many of our best jazz chanteuses didn’t become big names, even though they are considered the best America has ever produced. And even in September 2019 — age 82 at the time of this recording — she still wraps us in her oh-so-cool, refined, unpretentious, and earthy style. A bit throatier (which only adds to the appeal), she retains that knockout personality; she always was great off the cuff.

She’s worked the top clubs and made regular appearances on TV (Jack Paar, ya know), and that’s a good thing. Carol sings great jazz in an intimate club atmosphere — and Birdland is among the best in the States — and her unforced natural talent and lovely musical personality shoots a set of thirteen stellar standards to the moon. For me, this album is also sentimental: it represents a time when people actually leaned in to entertainers, forming a bond that was not only entertaining but healing. While I would kill to go back in time to the Village Vanguard in 1962 when she sang with Oscar Petersen, this album is no doubt the next best thing, given the talents of her backup boys, the all-star trio of the late Mike Renzi on piano, Jay Leonhart on bass, and Scott Hamilton on saxophone.

There’s a documentary in productionSloane: A Jazz Singer, to profile her remarkable career and the creation of this album, which you can stream, download or order at club44.lnk.to/LiveAtBirdland.

CAROL SLOANE – LIVE AT BIRDLAND TRACK LIST

1) Havin’ Myself a Time (Ralph Rainger – Leo Robin)
2) Blue Turning Grey Over You (Andy Razaf – Fats Waller)
3) I Don’t Want to Walk Without You (Jule Styne – Frank Loesser)
4) As Long As I Live (Harold Arlen – Ted Koehler)
5) Glad to Be Unhappy (Richard Rodgers – Lorenz Hart) /
     I Got a Right to Sing the Blues (Harold Arlen – Ted Koehler)
6) If I Should Lose You (Ralph Rainger – Leo Robin)
7) You Were Meant for Me (Nacio Herb Brown – Arthur Freed)
8) The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble)
9) You’re Driving Me Crazy (Walter Donaldson)
10) Two for the Road (Henry Mancini – Leslie Bricusse)
11) Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (Harry Barris – Billy Moll – Ted Koehler)
12) I’ll Always Leave the Door a Little Open (Richard Rodney Bennett –
Franklin R. Underwood – Johnny Mandel)

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