Carmen McRae - Sings Lover Man & Other Billie Holiday Classics
ORDER LIMITED TO ONE ITEM
Carmen McRa (vocals), Nat Adderley (cornet), Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis (tenor), Mundell Lowe (guitar), Norman Simmons (piano), Bob Cranshaw (bass), Walter Perkins (drums)
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : unspecified
Label : Pure Pleasure Records
Original Label : Columbia
1. Them There Eyes
3. I'm Gonna Lock My Heart
4. Strange Fruit
5.Miss Brown To You 6. My Man
1. I Cried For You
4. Some Other Spring
5.What A Little Moonlight Can Do
6. God Bless The Child
"Released in 1962, and produced by the great Teo Macero, this masterpiece was McRae's tribute to Holiday, her idol and major influence. McRae - a stylist many authorities consider shamfully underrated-chose 12 perfect numbers for paying homage to Lady Day, including a sublime 'Strange Fruit', a salaciously sexy 'Miss Brown To You' and endingthis with a reverant and heart-felt 'God Bless The Child'.
It's about as poignant as a tribute can be, McRae's regular trio augmented by guests including Nat Adderly and Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis.
Sonically, this is classic Columbia of the era, with vocal textures, power and detail to make you swoon." HIFI NEWS , August 2018 by Ken Kessler
"Singer Carmen McRae had an intimate knowledge of Billie Holiday since they lived in the same block when the former was growing up in Harlem, New York, according to the authoritative biography of Holiday by Donald Clarke. In fact, being childhood friends was not the only thing they had in common since Carmen's birthday came the day after Billie's and they regularly celebrated together, invariably over-indulging. Thus, when it came to Carmen McRae interpreting songs that the late Billie Holiday had immortalised, the music was in good hands and this album, recorded in two sessions during 1961, and released in 1962, more than lives up to the billing.It certainly helped that McRae was surrounded by a crème de la crème billing of instrumentalists, and ones who were used to accompanying top calibre vocalists. These included Norman Simmons on piano, Bob Cranshaw (he of 'Sidewinder fame with Lee Morgan) on the acoustic bass, and Walter Perkins on the drums, and with production duties courtesy of Teo Macero, who of course also produced Miles Davis among others. Guesting were the considerable talents of Nat Adderley on cornet and Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis on tenor saxophone. Carmen McRae possessed a unique voice and one that, according to writer Keith Shadwick, was not just a singer's singer; she was a musician's singer as well.
Carmen was adept to take more liberties with the material than Billie and in this respect, she was closer in affinity to both Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, who were technically the most gifted. Furthermore, McRae, in her phrasings, dispensed with sentimentality whereas the emotive voice of Billie Holiday was the polar opposite and this was a major distinction between the two.
As the excellent back cover sleeve notes from noted San Francisco based jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason, one of her greatest admirers, attest, Carmen McRae imbued the songs with her own inimitable style. That meant a cool character reading of both, Strange fruit' and, a dispassionate take on, 'Lover man', while she excelled with ad-libs on the more uptempo material such as, 'Yesterdays' (a favourite song of a future lady of jazz, Dianne Reeves, who emerged in the mid-late 1980's). Subsequently, Carmen McRae would record in a variety of contexts during the 1960's and 1970's, from reworking the then new standard, 'Take five', with the Dave Brubeck quartet as part of the Jazz Ambassadors line-up for Columbia through to covering the new sounds of soul with string accompaniment on, 'For once in my life', for Atlantic records.
The album contained within represents a high point in her career and is on a par arguably with her greatest live recording, 'The Great American Songbook', from an intimate 1971 double album at a Los Angeles club, and the end of career opus, 'Carmen sings Monk'. Carmen McRae would go on to record for Blue Note, Concord (especially with George Shearing) and its Latin-Jazz off-shoot, Concord Picante, on the memorable, 'Heatwave', album from 1982, with the latter recording especially recommended and again it was her ability to distance herself from the emotional lyrics that impresses." UK VIBE Magazine by Tim Stenhouse June 2018
"With her strong alto, huge range, and ability to change moods, McRae varies her sound throughout, sometimes sounding deliberately gravelly, then switching to softly sweet and romantic, matching the timbre of the instruments accompanying her. She alternates her tempo from slow and dramatic to lively, jazzy, flirty, or intimate. Always, she and the musicians accompanying her are in perfect sync, both in interpreting the lyrics and improvising with the melodies.
Every song is a winner. "Them There Eyes," begins with McRae singing off-rhythm, accompanied by a simple bass (Bob Cranshaw) and drums (Walter Perkins) before the sax (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) enters. "I'm Gonna Lock My Heart," is the happiest, with McRae hitting some surprising high notes. "Miss Brown to You," swings in a loose, flirty manner, and "I Cried for You" features McRae sounding like a muted trumpet and wailing. "Lover Man" is wonderfully bluesy, with a toe-tapping rhythm and improvisation, while "A Little Moonlight," with great piano (Norman Simmons), sax (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) and trumpet (Nat Adderley) solos, is wild and impassioned.
"Yesterdays," my favorite, begins as a slow, harshly melancholy song with sensitive piano background, then suddenly pauses slightly in the middle, and shifts to a faster, jazzier, more rhythmic line in which McRae is up and down and all over the scale. "Strange Fruit," one of Holiday's signature songs, is finely articulated, and McRae's phrasing and ironically sweet tones give even more emphasis to the horrifying lyrics as Mundell Lowe's guitar provides the mournful accompaniment. "God Bless the Child," written by Holiday, is slow and intimate, and as McRae phrases the story, her wailing adds poignancy to the lyrics.
Blessed with a voice and style that naturally adapts to any kind of jazz, along with the ability to articulate lyrics with perfect enunciation and phrasing, McRae is the consummate musician here. Singing some of Billie Holiday's best songs, and accompanied by world class artists with whom she is totally in sync, McRae in this LP is as good as it gets." Mary Whipple