Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Carmen McRae - I Want You

I Want You
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from MRL 387

Here's the last of the Carmen McRae releases on the Mainstream MRL to be shared in the blogosphere. As usual with her MRL reissues, this one was compiled from various sources and tracks are culled from the same session used for Alfie [Mainstream S-6084] & Haven't We Met? [Mainstream 56044], except for #8 which is taken from Woman Talk Live at the Village Gate [Mainstream S-6065].

Despite the seemingly haphazard way Shad programmed the tracklists on the reissues, there is very little to no overlap when it comes to tunes and those who do not own the originals should find these to be new to their Carmen collection (again, that may depend on what other reissues you have on Sony's Legacy label, who bought Shad's Mainstream catalogue from his daughter in the 90s). No surprises here either way since the magical voice and introspective interpretive style that she made the cornerstone of her career are present in all their intimate glory.

However, as opposed to her stripped-down sessions she recorded live, the orchestration can get in the way once in a while, especially on the Peter Matz-produced tracks. Those overseen by Don Sebesky show the usual tasteful arrangements he was known for, ones Creed Taylor would regularly put to good use on his CTI imprint a few years later. At any rate, fans of this amazing vocalist will not be disappointed since she is never completely overshadowed by the string swells thanks to the strength of her voice, which was at its peak during the period these songs were waxed.

Highlights for me include the spine-tingling "Too Good," an excellent example of the lovelorn fatalist role she played so well, along with "And I Love Him," her restrained reversed-gender take on Lennon & McCartney's well-worn ballad which would have still been a relatively new tune at the time of recording. Special mention also goes to the opener, which leans a bit to the saccharine side but features Carmen playing with the tempo of her phrasing to create a layer of tension within the song's static time signature (a technique for which she was renown), highlighting her mastery of the craft and demonstrating the intensely personal individuality she brought to her repertoire.

1 The Night Has a Thousand Eyes
2 Too Good
3 Don't Ever Leave Me
4 Sweet Georgia Brown
5 And I Love Him
6 In Love in Vain
7 Fooling Myself
8 The Shadow of Your Smile
9 My Reverie
10 Winter in May

This time I was too lazy to split out the musicians from the different sessions but a quick trip over to the Carmen McRae Discography site will pay dividends to the uber-OCD trainspotters. For the rest of our readers, below is a list of all musicians from the three sessions who participated in these recordings.

Carmen McRae (v)
Ray Beckenstein (f)
Phil Bodner, Leon Cohen, Charlie Mariano, Stanley "Champ" Webb (f, af, pic, cl, as, ts, o)
Shelly Gold (f, af, cl, o)
John Bello, Burt Collins, Mel Davis, Bernie Glow, Jimmy Maxwell, Jimmy Nottingham (t)
Wayne Andre, John Messner, Charles Small, Bill Watrous, Chauncey Welch (tb)
Ray Alonge, Dick Berg, Jim Buffington, Earl Chapin (frh)
Don Butterfield (tu)
Paul Faulise, Tony Studd (bt)
Barry Galbraith (g, elg)
Joe Puma (g)
Paul Breslin, Aaron Davis, Richard Davis, Victor Sproles (b)
Norman Simmons (p)
Eugene Bianco, Margaret Ross (hrp)
Archie Freedman, Mel Lewis, Frank Severino, Ed Shaughnessy (d)
Jose Mangual (bo)
Doug Allan, George Devens, Phil Kraus (per)

Adriana Broone, Fred Buldrini, Peter Buonconsiglio, Max Cahn, Norman Carr, Bernard Eichen, Arnold Eidus, Leo Kruczek, Walter Legawiec, Charles Libove, Carmel Malin, Joe Malin, Marvin Morganstern, David Nadien, George Ockner, Gene Orloff, George Polikian, Raoul Polikian, Max Pollikoff, Aaron Rosand, Tosha Samaroff, Michael Spivakowsky, Jack Zayde (vn), Al Brown, Harold Furmansky, David Mankowitz, Emanuel Vardi (vl)
Maurice Brown, Alla Goldberg, Charles McCracken, George Ricci, Harvey Shapiro, A. Sophos (cll)

If you want Carmen as much as she wants you, get her from Soundological HERE or HERE.


Cannon The Catalyst said...

It seems like it's been forever since the last post. Welcome back!

cheeba said...

Thanks Cannon! The break took a bit longer than expected but it's biz as usual here at Chez Soundological!

soulbrotha said...

Awesome stuff, Cheebs! Thank you and may "The Force" be with you! ;)

AMB said...

This is fabulous! Thanks for posting :)

cheeba said...

@soulbrotha, you're more than welcome! You got that mojo for sure!

@AMD, glad you enjoy - there are a few more Ms. McRae albums to be found on the blog if you haven't already caught them.

Moes Lake said...

Thanks for this cheeba! Although I'm not much familiar with female jazz vocals I really like this one. Especially 'Tood Good' is a beautiful tune full of sad emotions, I love it! Great job once again!

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic, one of the best Mrs MacRae ever,thank you.

cheeba said...

You're welcome Moes Lake! I must admit it took me a long time to get into female jazz vocalists myself. As Reza would say, I'm an old soul boy so I was very into female soul/R&B singers since I was a kid but outside of Billie & Ella, didn't know much about their jazz counterparts.

I only really started exploring the world of Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Helen Merrill, Betty Carter and others in depth over the last decade as I started to mellow with age. The material meant more to me and my ears were much more open to the subtleties involved. Since then, they've become a larger part of my listening routine - for the better. It's been especially easy since the advent of the internet to get good guidance too.

Hopefully you continue your journey of exploration and dig deeper into the wonderful voices that have been recorded the last century. You'll be rewarded handsomely!

grumpy said...

Love the comment about mellowing with age cheeba! Rings true. Over the past 10 years or so I've began to enjoy/appreciate vocalists that I first heard in my childhood in the 50s and 60s, Carmen being one such. Surely one of the great jazz singers. There was some amazing stuff of hers at scoredaddys before that blog disappeared.
Anyway, very many thanks for this which I've never heard before.

ish said...

Thanks Cheeba! Nice review as well.


cheeba said...

@grumpy, many welcomes. She's grown on me quite a bit the last five years now that I'm more attentive. I missed out on the scoredaddy score but I know Music Desde Las Antipodas has a good amount of her material.

@ish, you're welcome and thank you kindly!

Moes Lake said...

cheeba thanks for your response! If you have a record from your blog to recommend me I'd be delighted.

P.S. I love solos, that's propably what I miss the most in jazz vocal albums :)

cheeba said...

Surely, Moes Lake! If you like this, I'd recommend the other Carmen McRaes available here:



In a mellow mood, you might also enjoy the Morgana King posted a while back:


However, for vocal solos, I would highly recommend you check out Sarah Vaughan's entries at my other blog the shad shack especially the Live in Japan sides, which are considered some of the best female jazz vocal albums of all time.


There's also a few other strong McRaes over there as well. Again, solo-wise, I've been smitten with Betty Carter's vocalese the last year or so but have none on my site. Hook's Gems recently posted one of my faves of hers if you'd like to check her out:


Anyone else out there with some hot tips on female vocalists with great solos? I know there's plenty of readers out there much more qualified to make some killer recommendations...

Moes Lake said...

So far I listened to It's my turn and I really like it (I love her scatting), thanks a lot cheeb I'll dive in!

Addison said...

Ah, Carmen! She was truly great. Thank you for this wonderful recording.

cheeba said...

Yes she certainly was, Addison. Glad you enjoyed it!