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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke




CARMEN SINGS MONK
Carmen McCrae
Bluebird 09026-63841-2

  1. Get It Straight (Straight No Chaser)
  2. Dear Ruby (Ruby My Dear)
  3. It’s Over Now (Well You Needn’t)
  4. Monkery’s Blues (Blue Monk)
  5. You Know Who (I Need You)
  6. Little Butterfly (Pannonica)
  7. Listen To Monk (Rhythm-a-Ning)
  8. How I Wish (Ask Me Know)
  9. Man, That Was A Dream (Monk’s Dream)
  10. ‘Round Midnight
  11. Still We Dream (Ugly Beauty)
  12. Suddenly ( In Walked Bud)
  13. Looking Back (Reflections)
  14. Suddenly *
  15. Get It Straight *
  16. ‘Round Midnight *
  17. Listen To Monk *
  18. Man, That Was a Dream *

Crotchet midprice 

Alternative Takes.*
Tracks 1 & 12
Charlie Rouse – Tenor Larry Willis – Piano George Mraz – Bass Al Foster – Drums
All other tracks
Clifford Jordon – Tenor & Soprano Eric Gunnison – Piano George Mraz – Bass Al Foster – Drums
Recorded in Feb & April 1988

This is a re-issue of the 1998 album on the Novus Label, it was then in LP format and without the alternative takes.

Carmen is one of the finest jazz vocalists of all time, she ranks with Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan as a truly outstanding singer. She has everything the jazz singer needs, good diction, brilliant intonation, a voice with many facets and the ability to stamp her personality on any song. She was a contemporary of Thelonius Monk, being just 3 years his junior and they were great friends. This was an album Carmen had wanted to make for a long time, Monk was one of the most original composers jazz has produced. His quirky tunes with their unusual chord sequences remain popular with musicians and audiences alike. He surely could not have imagined that the haunting ‘Round Midnight’ would still be heard regularly so many years after it was written. These tunes were written for instrumentalists to play and the words in many cases were composed especially for this album, the titles had to be changed for copyright reasons. There are very few singers who would be up to the challenge of recording an album of Monk’s compositions and I can’t think of anyone who could have done it better than Carmen McCrae.

The ‘Live’ tracks have the late Charlie Rouse on Tenor, he played in Monk’s Band from 1958 to 1970, he must be the most underrated tenor player of his era, I hope the record companies have a search through their archives and re-issue more of his work. The Tenor playing on the studio tracks is equally enjoyable, but this time Clifford Jordan does the honours. The superb Bass and Drums team of George Mraz and Al Foster combine with Larry Willis on Piano on the ‘Live’ tracks and Peter Gunnison on the studio sessions. The backings of both groups are first class and all the musicians make a fine contribution. Carmen McCrae was 68 when this album was recorded and she was still in great voice. I already own a number of her albums because I am a great fan, but for me this is the best of all. Carmen retired three years later in 1991 and sadly she died in 1994.

 

Don Mather

 

 
 
 
 



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