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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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BETTY CARTER

`Round Midnight
and
Out There with Betty Carter

SOLAR RCORDS 4569940

 

 

‘Round Midnight

Nothing More To Look Forward To

Who What Why Where When

Heart and Soul

Call Me Darling

When I Fall In Love

‘Round Midnight

I Wonder

Theme from Dr Kildare

The Good Life

Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool

Two Cigarettes in the Dark

Shine On, Harvest Moon

One Note Samba

 

Out There with Betty Carter

You’re Driving Me Crazy

I Can’t Help It

By the Bend of the River

Babe’s Blues

Foul Play

You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me

One the Isle of May

But Beautiful

All I’ve Got

Make It Last

Blue Bird Happiness

Something Wonderful

Bonus Tracks

Rock-A-Bye-Baby

Frenesi (1956 and 1961 versions)

 

Betty Carter (vocals): ‘Round Midnight session – Conte Candoli (trumpet): Richie Kamuca (tenor sax); Russ Freeman (piano): Monty Budwig (bass); Shelley Manne (drums), recorded August 1962, NYC

Out There with Betty Carter session; collective personnel – Kenny Dorham and Ray Copeland (trumpets): Melba Liston (trombone): Gigi Gryce (alto sax, conductor): Jimmy Powell (alto sax): Benny Golson, Jerome Richardson (tenor sax): Sahib Shihab (baritone sax): Wynton Kelly (piano): Sam Jones, Peck Morrison (bass): Specs Wright (drums), recorded February 1958, NYC

Bonus tracks; Studio Orchestra. On 1956 Frenesi, orchestra conducted by Gigi Gryce

SOLAR RCORDS 4569940 [76:39]

 

It’s startling to hear, in the very first track of this well-filled disc, a kind of girl-pop cum C & W number in which Betty Carter’s voice is overdubbed with itself. The cutesy triviality of this will doubtless jar with Carter’s legion of admirers, who might not wish to be reminded of their idol’s uncertain beginnings. I, though, quite like it – heretically, I prefer it to some of the studied vocalisation to be heard elsewhere. The first LP to be transferred here is ‘Round Midnight from 1962 where a fine backing band is kept on something of a short leash – disappointing when the band consists of musicians of the calibre of Conte Candoli, Richie Kamuca, Russ Freeman, and driven onwards by Shelly Manne. Kamuca at least gets a good chorus on Call Me Darling. Even on an R ‘n’ B swinger such as Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool the band just plays fills – a wasted opportunity if ever there was one, and the excuse that the album was to promote Carter doesn’t really wash. Why hire them in the first place if they’re largely muzzled? Arranger and conductor Claus Ogerman must surely shoulder some of the blame for that. On other tracks there’s an anonymous orchestra directed by Oliver Nelson. A couple of these tracks never made it to the LP – Shine on Harvest Moon, too R ‘n’ B again, and an appropriately Latino version of One Note Samba.

Out There was actually the earlier album, having been recorded in 1958. She sounds rather more herself in this set, giving vent to her unbridled propensity for scat vocals. The best track here is probably Babe’s Blue where Jerome Richardson and Ray Copeland take brief solos, though we hear from elegant pianist Wynton Kelly on You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me. The variety of ballads and up-tempo swingers is more conventional in this album – it’s colouristically less adventurous than the later album in that respect – but stylistically Carter is heard to better effect in 1958. The disc finishes with two eminently forgettable versions of Frenesi.

Excellent production values ensure that these tracks are heard in the best possible light. Artistically speaking, unevenness is the name of the game throughout.

Jonathan Woolf



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