Carmen McRae, Live at Birdland West – Fine and Mellow (with Red Holloway, tenor & alto sax; John Clayton, bass; Paul Humphrey, drums; Jack McDuff, organ; Phil Upchurch, guitar) – Concord Jazz

by | Jun 30, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Carmen McRae, Live at Birdland West – Fine and Mellow (with Red
Holloway, tenor & alto sax; John Clayton, bass; Paul Humphrey,
drums; Jack McDuff, organ; Phil Upchurch, guitar) – Concord Jazz
multichannel SACD-1005-6 ****:

From tapes made live in 1987 we hear Carmen McRae in her prime with a
great band including Jack McDuff’s B3 organ backing her, plus the added
catnip of an appreciative audience in the club.  The title tune
(from Billie Holiday) runs nearly ten minutes and while reminding us of
the original still sports plenty of highly individual McRae-isms. 
The band opens the proceedings with a strictly instrumental version of
the Cole Port standard What Is This Thing Called Love?  McRae’s
enunciation is impeccable; there’s never any problem understanding her
lyrics.  And her special way with lyrics is really
something.  The naughty double-entendre My Handy Man…, which
closes the disc, has never had such a precise and knowing delivery –
there’s not the slightest confusion about exactly what the lady’s
meaning is.  Unlike nearly all classical SACDs and most jazz
SACDs, Concord mixes theirs to the full six channels (5.1).  And
on this one I think they went a bit over the top on the LFE channel –
John Clayton’s acoustic bass nearly bounced me off my sofa!  My
subwoofer is directly behind it and I had to turn the LFE level w-a-y
down to avoid the sensation I was inside the bass.

Tracks: What Is This Thing Called Love?, What Can I Say After I Say I’m
Sorry, Fine and Mellow, These Foolish Things Remind Me of You, Black
and Blue, One More Chance, Until the Real Thing Comes Along, My Handy
Man Ain’t Handy No More.

– John Henry

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