Carmen McRae (vcl) accompanied by Buddy Bregman & Marty Paich Orchestras, Norman Simmons (p), Victor Sproles (b), Walter Perkins (d)
Reference: FSRCD 780
Carmen McRae (1920-1994) had a definitively personal way with songs and the aptly titled Something Wonderful captures this great singers subtle and expressive handling of a set of Broadway tunes. At once casual and dramatically nuanced, sophisticated in her phrasing and insights, she is accompanied by the brassy jazz-tinged sounds, subtle woodwinds and polished,
lush-stringed backing of a big band propelled by Buddy Bregmans magnificent scoring.
Her voice possessed just enough natural defects and inflections to aid her in bending a phrase to her will, heightening the dramatic arc of a performance with the almost infallible sense of a storytellers instinct for light and shade. This ability to master a lyric led Down Beat critic John Tynan to observe, She manages to give the constant impression that shes never wrong in the interpretation and delivery of any song.
A worthy addition to this set includes three fine selections on which she sings with an orchestra conducted and arranged by Marty Paich, along with two songs from a rare single and four live performances recorded during the TV show Jazz Casual. For Carmen McRae singing was not a façade, but a deeply rewarding emotional experience. This is an enjoyable collection by a truly gifted singer.
"One of the few truly original vocalists, Carmen McRae made her name as one of the last of the verifiable bop vocalists, mixing a sardonic swing with deep emotion. This single cd contains the entire Something Wonderful LP from 1962 that has her with an orchestra arranged and conducted by Buddy Bregman. The format is a collection of medleys from shows that serve as salutes to the likes of Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Ella Logan and Gertrude Lawrence. McRaes delivery sounds a tad white washed than what you might be more accustomed to, and for the most part the music comes off as a Readers Digest version of show tunes; nothing is really taken in depth after the surface of the medley has been scratched. That deeper quality comes with the bonus tracks that have her with Marty Paichs band and a supporting team from the TV Show Jazz Casual. Here, McRae sounds like she means it on So Long and Baby, Baby. Her readings of If You Never Fall In Love With Me and Trouble Is A Man have McRaes heart on her sleeve, and make you beg for more."
George W. Harris (July 29, 2013)
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