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Dearest Duke

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Album Review

Jazz vocalist Carol Sloane covers ballads on Dearest Duke, generating a mellow love letter to one of America's greatest jazz composers, Duke Ellington. She's joined in her effort by clarinetist Ken Peplowski and pianist Brad Hatfield for a spare, intimate set that allows Sloane's voice to stand front and center. There is a hazard to stringing a dozen ballads together, mostly that an album will fall into a familiar pattern. Listening to a dozen Ellington songs performed by a sympathetic interpreter, however, builds thematic unity, creating an album well suited for late-night and lazy afternoon moods. And how can one fail with songs like "Mood Indigo," "In a Sentimental Mood," and "Sophisticated Lady"? The overall proceedings are only interrupted by slight variations in approach, as when Peplowski and Hatfield perform the instrumental "Serenade to Sweden" and Peplowski adds his vocals to "Just Squeeze Me (But Don't Tease Me)." Sloane's approach may seem a bit old-fashioned by those who have become accustomed to the more polished sounds and production of Diana Krall and the current crop of torch singers, but what of it? There's something to be said for bringing all musical elements to bear on the singer and the song, and this approach works just fine on Dearest Duke. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: 1937 in Providence, RI

Genre: Jazz

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

Singer Carol Sloane started singing professionally when she was 14 and at 18 she toured Germany in a musical comedy. She was with the Les and Larry Elgart orchestra during 1958-1960 and, after appearing at a jazz festival in 1960, she was heard by Jon Hendricks who later sent for her to sub for Annie Ross with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Sloane made a big impression at the 1961 Newport Jazz Festival and soon cut two records for Columbia. Unfortunately, her career never got going and, except for...
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Dearest Duke, Carol Sloane
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