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GLORIOUS MCRAE MASTERPIECE~BRAVO CARMEN!!!
Bradly Briggs | TOLUCA LAKE, CALIFORNIA | 07/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Carmen McRae entered into her incomparable legendary form vocally in the mid-sixties with these masterful recordings on Mainstream Records which were brilliantly arranged by Peter Matz and Don Sebesky with a full forty-piece studio orchestra and it doesn't ever get finer than this and very rarely as great so grab this treasure while you can as this Ultimate Collection is sadly the only compact-disc release to date of these incredible sessions...Carmen McRae is a knock-out with each of these great classic songs and every version is the definitive one without a doubt and these amazing sessions led to Carmen's major label contract with Atlantic Records which continued a winning streak of recordings from this great singer through the sixties and into the seventies!!!
Opening with a haunting and at the same time rousing "Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries" with Carmen bringing down the house in the great finale, it is clear that Ms. McRae is in full command of every facet of her craft and in peak vocal form with a voice so richly shaded with nuances that it takes repeated listens to fully appreciate them all. "Who Can I Turn To?" is sung with richly hued vocal shadings with much emotional depth and Carmen gets totally inside the lyrics of "The Music That Makes Me Dance" and brings the song to life in a way never heard before with remarkable vocal tones and shadings that make for a wonderous listening experience. A big band kicker is the intoxicating "Gentlemen Friend" that is sung with much aplomb while a stellar vocal with the Bacharach/David classic "Alfie" forever changed Carmen's career and opened her to a broader and much younger audience that put her between the baby-boomers and their parents and from then on Carmen tackled everything from her normal great songbook of a wide variety of standards to a whole new world of Lennon/McCartney/Brian Wilson/Bob Lind/Randy Newman/etc. and all very successfully! Any doubt check out the finally released "Just A Little Lovin'" and enjoy stellar versions of "Carry That Weight" and "Here, There And Everywhere" and witness one of the greatest voices of the century sing soulfully with "The Sweet Inspirations" doing great background vocals behind a real master who was expanding her horizons with class, lots of soul and all in her own style! Carmen takes a Duke Ellington standard to its maximum and "It Shouldn't Happen To A Dream" is a clear study of the art of great singing at its absolute finest and "Love Is A Night Time Thing" is another great big-band arrangement that features an enchanting vocal that is loose, soulful and totally brilliant. A magical vocal on "Because You're Mine" gives new life to an old standard while the exotic "Cloudy Morning" is haunting and beautifully romantic...Carmen's magnificent vocal make "Limehouse Blues" a brilliant tour-de-force and the arrangement is a completely stunning mix of incredibly great musicians!!! As a teen in the mid-sixties I heard from Carmen's seasoned followers that her real masterpiece was "Blame It On My Youth" and this brilliant lesson of life made an impression that has stayed with me some forty years later and still amazes me with each new listen...a hauntingly gorgeous vocal make Where Did It Go? (Manha de Carnival) a truly stunning masterpiece that has never been more haunting or quite as moving and the Johnny Mercer "Once Upon A Summertime" is pure bliss with Carmen at her intoxicating best! Hold on for the ride of a lifetime as "Sweet Georgia Brown" has never been swung so hard and with so much sass...this performance along with others in this collection should have won numerous Grammy Awards...where were these people at? Never has a singer sung quite so magically as here in this great collection and not won the acclaim that was deserved as great singing does not ever get better than here in this priceless collection...listen to the longingly gorgeous commanding vocal in "Don't Ever Leave Me" and enjoy the art of great singing at its finest ever...closing this extraordinary vocal festival is a glorious "Foolin' Myself" which again is Carmen McRae at her peak singing great songs with a kicking band like only she could do! Thank you Carmen McRae for sharing your incredible gift so generously for so many years and we really do miss you...there was nothing comparable to seeing this great lady live in concert...don't miss this incomparable collection that is in my top-ten desert island classics!"