Sunday, 12 October 2008

Carmen McRae - Gold (a.k.a. Alfie)

Carmen's Gold

65 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Mainstream MRL-338

This one's for the shad shack. A 1972 re-issue of Carmen's 1967 album Alfie (Mainstream S6084) which was basically the more popular tracks from her two 1964 Mainstream studio albums with her version of "Alfie" (which hit #22 in 1966) tacked on for good measure. Nevertheless, the 1967 issue made it to #150 on the Billboard Pop chart that year.

Lonehill Jazz released the two albums in question on one CD in 2006 under the title Carmen McRae, 1964 Orchestra Recordings and this is their spiel:

First time on CD for two outstanding albums recorded in 1964 (Second To None and Haven't We Met) available on one CD by this Jazz vocalist. Arrangements by Peter Matz and Don Sebesky and featuring Bernie Glow, Burt Collins, Bill Watrous, Wayne Andre, Charlie Mariano, Phil Bodner, Barry Galbraith, Norman Simmons, Richard Davis and Mel Lewis. The repertoire was discerningly chosen by Carmen. Any writer who has a song on this or any other album by Carmen should be flattered because of her meticulous choice when it comes to material and for the intelligent interpretation she gives each composition. Carmen will not do a tune that she doesn’t 'feel'.

Rather than exaggerating, they are describing her talents modestly as far as the jazz community at large is concerned and if nothing else, she was consistently praised for her uncannily excellent choice in material, a factor that has sunken many an artist's career or has seen them consigned to unmemorable mediocrity. While the bio below is OK for starters, Soundological highly recommends you peruse the definitive Carmen McRae website for a real understanding of her exceptional talent and charismatic personality.

AMG Bio by Scott Yanow

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 really had much momentum. McRae married and divorced Kenny Clarke in the 1940s, worked with Count Basie (briefly) and Mercer Ellington (1946-47), and became the intermission singer and pianist at several New York clubs. In 1954 she began to record as a leader and by then she had absorbed the influences of Billie Holiday and bebop into her own style. McRae would record pretty steadily up to 1989 and, although her voice was higher in the 1950s and her phrasing would be even more laidback in later years, her general style and approach did not change much through the decades.

Championed in the 1950s by Ralph Gleason, Carmen McRae was fairly popular throughout her career. Among her most interesting recording projects were participating in Dave Brubeck's the Real Ambassadors with Louis Armstrong, cutting an album of live duets with Betty Carter, being accompanied by Dave Brubeck and George Shearing, and closing her career with brilliant tributes to Thelonious Monk and Sarah Vaughan. Carmen McRae, who refused to quit smoking, was forced to retire in 1991 due to emphysema. She recorded for many labels including Bethlehem, Decca (1954-58), Kapp, Columbia, Mainstream, Focus, Atlantic (1967-70), Black Lion, Groove Merchant, Catalyst, Blue Note, Buddah, Concord and Novus.

1 Alfie
2 Who Can I Turn To (from Haven't We Met)
3 The Music That Makes Me Dance (from Second To None)
4 Gentleman Friend (from Haven't We Met)
5 It Shouldn't Happen to a Dream (from Haven't We Met)
6 Love Is a Night Time Thing (from Haven't We Met)
7 Because You're Mine (from Second To None)
8 Cloudy Morning (from Second To None)
9 Limehouse Blues (from Haven't We Met)
10 Blame It on My Youth (from Second To None)

MUSICIANS on tracks from Second To None:
Phil Bodner, Shelly Gold (f, af, cl, o),
John Bello (t)
John Messner, Charles Small, Chauncey Welch (tb)
Ray Alonge, Dick Berg, Jim Buffington (frh)
Tony Studd (bt)
Barry Galbraith (g)
Richard Davis, Victor Sproles (b)
Norman Simmons (p)
Eugene Bianco (hrp)
Archie Freedman (d)
George Devens, Phil Kraus (per)
Adriana Broone, Fred Buldrini, Peter Buonconsiglio, Max Cahn, Norman Carr, Bernard Eichen, Walter Legawiec, Carmel Malin, Joe Malin, Marvin Morganstern, David Nadien, Raoul Polikian, Max Pollikoff, Tosha Samaroff, Jack Zayde (vn)
Al Brown, Harold Furmansky, David Mankowitz, Emanuel Vardi (vl)
Maurice Brown, Alla Goldberg, Charles McCracken, George Ricci (cll)

MUSICIANS on tracks from Haven't We Met:
Phil Bodner, Leon Cohen, Charlie Mariano, Stanley "Champ" Webb (f, af, pic, cl, as, ts, o)
Burt Collins, Mel Davis, Bernie Glow, Jimmy Maxwell, Jimmy Nottingham (t)
Wayne Andre, Bill Watrous (tb)
Ray Alonge, Dick Berg, Jim Buffington, Earl Chapin (frh)
Don Butterfield (tu)
Paul Faulise, Tony Studd (bt)
Barry Galbraith (g, elg)
Aaron Davis, Richard Davis (b)
Norman Simmons (p)
Margaret Ross (hrp)
Mel Lewis, Ed Shaughnessy (d)
Doug Allan, Phil Kraus (per)
Bernard Eichen, Arnold Eidus, Leo Kruczek, Charles Libove, David Nadien, George Ockner, Gene Orloff, George Polikian, Aaron Rosand, Tosha Samaroff, Michael Spivakowsky, Jack Zayde (vn), Charles McCracken, George Ricci, Harvey Shapiro, A. Sophos (cll)

Get your gold from Soundological HERE or HERE.


ish said...

Thanks Cheeba!

E-mile said...

hi Cheeba, good to hear you're enjoying yer new place! tell the miss some felix-in-the-mix is coming, see you (but it's bizzy over here, barely got the time to browse, blog and/or "behind the PC"
peace, E-mile

Anonymous said...

Thank's sincerily from this great record

Cosmo Vitelli said...

Thank you. I started some years ago collecting everything I could find from Carmen McRae. I never saw this one. You made my day :-)

cheeba said...

Glad I could, Cosmo. Likewise you made mine by leaving a comment like this!