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Sings Great American Songwriters

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Album Review

Instead of reissuing all of singer Carmen McRae's early records for Decca in chronological order, the GRP program has hedged its bets a bit by coming up with highlights from each of her sessions although, with the various CDs on a whole, nearly everything has being reissued anyway. The 20 numbers on this CD are taken from ten different sessions and find McRae joined by the Mat Mathews Quintet (featuring flutist Herbie Mann), the Ray Bryant Trio, and several large orchestras. The repertoire is taken from the songbooks of some of the classic American composers (including Gershwin, Porter, Kern, Rodgers & Hart and Arlen); McRae's interpretations are both respectful and swinging. It is particularly interesting to hear how high her voice could go in the early days. This CD is easily recommended to her fans.


Born: April 8, 1920 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Carmen McRae always had a nice voice (if not on the impossible level of an Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan) but it was her behind-the-beat phrasing and ironic interpretations of lyrics that made her most memorable. She studied piano early on and had her first important job singing with Benny Carter's big band (1944), but it would be another decade before her career had really gained much momentum. McRae married and divorced Kenny Clarke in the '40s, worked with Count Basie (briefly) and Mercer Ellington...
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