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Bebop Spoken There

Walter Trout: "I don't know why John Mayall put up with me for so long. But I've been sober for 32 years now, not a beer nor a joint," - (Blues Matters! Aug/Sep 2020)

Teddy Wilson: "Mildred Bailey was a much better singer than Billie [Holiday]." - (DownBeat August, 2020)


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11,740 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 880 of them this year alone and, so far, 17 this month (August 4).

Coming soon ...


Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Remembering Carmen McRae

DownBeat's 68th Annual Critic's Poll, where the wise and the wonderful throw hats and toupees into the ring and vote for their favourites. As with all polls - jazz or otherwise - some you go along with and some you gasp at with amazement.

However, few would kick at the choice of Carmen McRae's entry into the hallowed portals of The Hall of Fame - albeit via the Veterans Committee Poll which, to me, seems a little bit like getting in by the back door. Les Paul, Machito and Mario Bauza ended up in the pack although Mildred Bailey,  also deservedly, made the cut.

Nevertheless, poll positions aside, in times when centennials are frequently being celebrated - Charlie Parker's is due on August 29 - Carmen McRae's is surely worthy of mention although, it must be said, that our local (northeast) jazz promoters have been somewhat reluctant in their enthusiasm to celebrate Parker, a musician who, indirectly, led to their venue's existence, so maybe Carmen may struggle however....

Carmen McRae's centennial occurred on April 8 this year and, sadly, because of all the current kerfuffle going on, didn't get recorded in these pages.

Turn back those pages to 1959. I'm very young and entering my first ever Soho jazz club - The Flamingo. On stage is Carmen McRae - sitting at the piano and looking as cool as the ice we all had in our non-alcoholic drinks. Phil Seaman is behind the kit and Kenny Napper is on bass. When Carmen vacates the piano Don Abney takes over. Last time I'd heard Don was with Ella at Newcastle's City Hall - this guy only plays with the best! Was it good? I went three nights running! The evidence is out there on an Ember LP - Carmen McRae: Live in London - a gem.
Next came the album Torchy - if you ever want to hear Star Eyes sung better than any one else has ever sung it then check this album out.

The love affair continued when I heard Carmen at RFH as part of a show that featured Carmen, Mel Tormé and George Shearing. Another fantastic evening which brings me, eventually, to the point ...

Zoë Gilby is well know for her appreciation of the work of Carmen McRae and, in this, Carmen's centennial, who better to pay tribute to her on this side of the Atlantic?

What do you think Zoë?

1 comment :

Zoe Gilby said...

I love Carmen McRae and it’s certainly on the list of projects I’d love to do.... watch this space

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