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The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets (Live at the Great American Music Hall)
Betty Carter, Carmen McRae
The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets (Live at the Great American Music Hall)
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Betty Carter, Carmen McRae
Title: The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets (Live at the Great American Music Hall)
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Release Date: 1/30/1996
Album Type: Live
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Vocal Jazz, Bebop, Vocal Pop, Traditional Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 731452957924

CD Reviews

A hellish match made in heaven!
Louis Alemayehu | Minneapolis, MN | 04/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I love Billie. I love Sarah. I love Ella. I love Dinah. But if I were on a desert island, I would have to have the music of Carmen and Betty! They both had the wonderful combination of heart AND technique. They make you live the story within the song as they demonstrate monster creativity in reconstructing/recreating a song. The only song that seems under par is Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments". The pitch strikes me as flat and i suspect that was mostly Betty's problem because she often intentionally or otherwise seemed to have a ptich problem or a different sense of pitch that was right for her. She could really sound flat to my ears from time to time but...
Both women had an exceptional balance of interpretation of musicianship... awesomely so. Listen to Duke Ellingtons' "Sophisticated Lady". Such humor and joy on this set. Listen to the way Carmen sings: "Diamonds Shining...". It is dark and glistening! Listen to Betty's interprtation of "Where or When". Originally this song was performed in a light operatic style. Betty does a Brilliant reconstruction of an this old she takes it to another place of timelessness. She makes it live again. Almost like you are hearing it for the first time.
This is not a "perfect" album. It is magical! It touches in deep places that make you glad you were a live to witness such beauty.
Early on in the set they joke about how nobody imagined that these two could ever get along long enough to do anything together. Carmen asserts that they did it because they were smart as foxes. And they were for awhile. Within two years of doing this recording they were infact in an ugly fued. None the less they left a legacy of beauty and creativity.
Yeah, get this one!"
Two of the great ladies of jazz, relaxed and having fun toge
Mary Whipple | New England | 10/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This unusual CD features the great Betty Carter performing live with the great Carmen McRae, both having fun as they share the spotlight. Betty's voice is higher and sweeter than Carmen's lower, stronger, and more assertive voice, but together they sound like extensions of each other, almost alteregos, as they interact, engage in delightful patter, and joke and obviously mug with the audience. This is a CD for which one yearns for a video, since these two megastars of jazz are so in sync that it's sometimes difficult to tell which one is singing in these unusually long tracks.

In all tracks it is the singers themselves who are the focus. Accompaniment is kept to a minimum--at most, just the piano, bass, and/or drum--and frequently McRae and Carter sound as if they are singing a capella. "Stolen Moments (You Belong to Her)" features wonderful harmony and impeccable timing, as both singers hit their notes exactly on cue. "But Beautiful," slower and more ballad-like, shows both singers alternating the solo line, ending with surprising high notes and perfect harmony. In one of the longest songs, "Am I Blue?" McRae begins with a solo, then turns the mike to Carter halfway through, before they join and swing together for the remainder of this nearly seven-minute track.

One of the best songs on the CD is "Sometimes I'm Happy," which begins with Carter singing to a bass accompaniment (by Jim Hughart), switching to scat and wild improvisation by McRae, and ending with Carter singing scat. In fact, their ability to sing scat together and alternately is one of the best aspects of this CD. In "Isn't It Romantic?" these two stars obviously enjoy harmonizing, which they continue with "Sophisticated Lady," which alternates solos and then combines. The high point of the CD is "It Don't Mean a Thing," however. From the beginning, in which they sing together accompanied by a drum (Wynard Harper), then piano (Eric Gunnison), the two have fun alternating scat turns, before the drum solos, and all go wild.

As McRae and Carter exchange patter and interject comments within their songs, they are obviously playing to their audience, which responds audibly on the recording, one of the great advantages of live performances. Bright, fun, and relaxed, this CD shows two of the great ladies of jazz interacting and sharing the spotlight as the audience roars its approval. Don't miss this one. N Mary Whipple
Two For the Road
Rick Cornell | 02/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This CD is one of the best recordings I have heard thus far! Carmen and Betty truly compliment each other's singing techniques. While Betty is smooth and low-key, Carmen is clear and comical. While Betty is 'Miss scatting queen', Carmen is 'Miss interpretation'. For the scatting fans out there, I highly recommend that you listen to "It Don't Mean A Thing (if it ain't got that swing)" and "Sometimes I'm Happy". These wonderful renditions are fun and enjoyable. This recording which was taped live in 1987, always has you on your toes. As many times as I've listened to it, it still keeps me laughing. There's nothing better than hearing Carmen and Betty improvise, joke with one another, and completely make up things to sing and say as they go along with their performance! The audience loved it, and I'm sure you will too!"