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I Can't Help It

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Album Review

This single-CD reissues the second batch of Betty Carter recordings, her Peacock and ABC-Paramount dates which followed her Epic/Columbia titles by two years. Formerly available as a two-LP set (What a Little Moonlight Can Do), the 24 selections find the already-distinctive vocalist carving out her own sound from the bebop tradition; her more innovative work was in the future. Quite a few of the renditions are memorable including "I Can't Help It" (which is somewhat autobiographical), "You're Driving Me Crazy," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Jazz (Ain't Nothin' but Soul)" and "Don't Weep for the Lady." While the second half of the CD has Carter accompnied by an orchestra arranged by Richard Wess, the first 12 numbers feature such top players as trumpeters Ray Copeland and Kenny Dorham, either Jerome Richardson or Benny Golson on tenor and pianist Wynton Kelly. Highly recommended.


Born: May 16, 1930 in Flint, MI

Genre: Jazz

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

Arguably the most adventurous female jazz singer of all time, Betty Carter was an idiosyncratic stylist and a restless improviser who pushed the limits of melody and harmony as much as any bebop horn player. The husky-voiced Carter was capable of radical, off-the-cuff reworkings of whatever she sang, abruptly changing tempos and dynamics, or rearranging the lyrics into distinctive, off-the-beat rhythmic patterns. She could solo for 20 minutes, scat at lightning speed, or drive home an emotion with...
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