Ballad Essentials

Ballad Essentials

by Carmen McRae


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Ballad Essentials

In 1999, Concord Jazz launched its Ballad Essentials series with this superb Carmen McRae collection, which spans 1980-1987. The influential singer recorded for Concord on four occasions; after teaming up with George Shearing for 1980's Two for the Road and joining forces with Cal Tjader on 1982's Heat Wave, McRae paid tribute to Nat "King" Cole on 1983's You're Lookin' at Me and visited Long Beach, CA, for 1987's excellent Fine and Mellow: Live at Birdland West. The only track that's out of place on this CD is "Fine and Mellow," which is a 12-bar blues instead of a ballad. True, McRae is captivating and inspired on this Billie Holiday classic, one of the highlights of Birdland West, but this is supposed to be a collection of ballads, not a blues collection. The rest of the CD, however, demonstrates just how stunning a ballad singer McRae could be. This is true whether she's joining Tjader's band on "Besame Mucho," saluting Cole on "You're Looking at Me," performing for the Birdland West audience on "These Foolish Things," or doing a vocals/piano duet with Shearing on "More Than You Know," "If I Should Lose You," and "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You." It's regrettable that Concord disrupted the CD's ambience by including a blues performance -- albeit an impressive one -- but even so, Ballad Essentials is enthusiastically recommended to anyone who cherishes intimate, smoky jazz singing.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/26/1999
Label: Concord Records
UPC: 0013431487722
catalogNumber: 4877
Rank: 142987

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Carmen McRae   Primary Artist,Vocals
Red Holloway   Tenor Saxophone
George Shearing   Piano
Paul Humphrey   Drums
Phil Upchurch   Guitar
Donald Bailey   Drums
Ramon Banda   Bongos,Bells
John Clayton   Bass
John Collins   Guitar
Vince Lateano   Drums
John Leftwich   Bass
Jack McDuff   Hammond Organ
Marshall Otwell   Piano
Poncho Sanchez   Conga
Cal Tjader   Vibes

Technical Credits

John Burk   Executive Producer
Ralph Rainger   Composer
Leo Robin   Composer
Scott Yanow   Liner Notes
Ray Avery   Cover Photo
Glen Barros   Executive Producer
Darren Wong   Art Direction

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