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20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Carmen McRae

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Album Review

Verve's 20th Century Masters — The Millennium Collection: The Best of Carmen McRae collects 12 of the great jazz singer's tracks from the '50s. The first eight were recorded for Decca between 1955 and 1958, the last four are taken from her Kapp recordings of 1959. All of them are first-rate vocal jazz and ballads; McRae was releasing wonderful album after wonderful album at this point in her long career. The songs chosen from them contain some of her best including her heartbreaking take on "My Funny Valentine," the incredibly romantic "Exactly Like You" and "My Romance," a very bluesy "Ain't Misbehavin'" and a fun and silly duet with Sammy Davis, Jr. that shows off her lighter side. There are quite a few Carmen McRae collections out there to choose from. This one really just skims the surface but is a lovely place to go if you are want to hear one of the great interpreters of ballads do what she does best.

Customer Reviews

so smooth

Carmen was one smooth gal.I still think that her best work was the album she did with Cal Tjader.Now thats some music for you!


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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