Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant (Bonus Track Version)
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This CD features singer Betty Carter and pianist Ray Bryant at the beginning of their careers, reissuing their very first recordings as leaders. Carter's 25-year-old voice was already quite recognizable, although the improvising style on her 11 titles here is much more conservative than it would be from the 1970s on. However, Carter's scatting on "Frenesi" (which sounds like a wigged-out Carmen McRae) shows individuality, and her renditions of "Social Call," "I Could Write a Book," and "Moonlight in Vermont" are memorable. In addition, this CD has eight selections by Ray Bryant's trio with bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Philly Joe Jones, a unit that also served as Carter's backup group on seven of her performances. A well-rounded and unclassifiable player who even at the beginning of his career mixed the drive and joy of swing with more advanced harmonies, Bryant was already long on his way toward developing his own sound in the mid-'50s. This version of "Get Happy" was previously unreleased, while "Bryant's Folly" (a rollicking blues) and "Threesome" are high points. A historic and enjoyable set.
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