Barbara Carroll Trio – Something to Live For (Live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola / Jazz at Lincoln Center) – Harbinger Records HCD–2601 [Distr. by Qualiton] *****:
(Barbara Carroll, piano & vocals; Ken Peplowski, tenor sax & clarinet; Jay Leonhart, doiublebass; Alvin Atkinson, drums)
Known as “the first girl to play bebop piano,” Barbara Carroll is one of the top women in jazz and is now 85 years old and still working. While she dropped out of the jazz world for a period when public tastes changed, she is now back and much appreciated in the jazz club and cabaret world. This recording was made in 2008 at Lincoln Center and is superb from beginning to end – fully supporting Duke Ellington’s definition of Carroll being “beyond category.” Not only does she offer clever, swinging and highly original takes on all dozen tracks here, but she even does the vocals on two of them. And in spite of her age she sounds better than the majority of the female jazz vocalists on disc that we receive for review!
Carroll has the terrific Jay Leonhart as the bassist in her trio, and she has rounded out her trio with one of my favorite reed-men, Ken Peplowski, making it really more of a quartet than a trio. Several of her tune choices are also not the expected ones: She does gorgeous lyrical treatments of two Ellington masterpieces (well, the second is really by Strayhorn) – Single Petal of a Rose and Lotus Blossom. Leonhart’s skillful use of his bow is prominent on these. In fact six of the tracks are Ellington or Strayhorn numbers. Peplowski’s clarinet shines on the seldom-heard How Could You Do a Thing Like That To Me? And he switches to tenor sax for Ellington’s Things Ain’t What They Used to Be. The quartet swings lustily on Dizzy’s closing A Night in Tunisia.
What a treat, from start to finish!
TrackList: All I Need is the Girl, Lonely Town, I Wanna Be Yours, How Could You Do a Thing Like That to Me?, Single Petal of a Rose, In a Sentimental Mood, Mood Indigo, Things Ain’t What They Used to Be, How About You?, Something to Live For, Lotus Blossom, A Night in Tunisia
— John Henry