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BWW Album Review: CAROL SLOANE LIVE AT BIRDLAND Captures A Historic Entertainer In Blissful Beautiful Action

The jazz great's first album in a decade is a must-have for music lovers' collections.

BWW Album Review: CAROL SLOANE LIVE AT BIRDLAND Captures A Historic Entertainer In Blissful Beautiful Action

A few years ago I was at a now-famous birthday party for the celebrity attorney Mark D. Sendroff, a party during which a stunning two hours of entertainment took place, featuring performers like Jennifer Holliday, Randy Graff, Julie Wilson, Kaye Ballard, and Karen Mason, among others. At one point, a petite woman stood on the stage and apologized for not being as famous as the other entertainers in the lineup, saying, "I'm just a jazz singer." When the woman who was just a jazz singer finished her number the entire room erupted into thunderous applause.

That was my introduction to Carol Sloane. And I have been obsessed with the just jazz singer ever since.

To celebrate her sixty years in show business, Carol Sloane has just released a new album Carol Sloane LIVE AT BIRDLAND. The album, recorded in 2019, is Sloane's first album in over a decade and it is one incredible piece of artistry. For all of us who were not lucky enough to be there when Ms. Sloane made this appearance at the iconic club where all jazz greats play, the album stands as a fortunate look into what happened on that night, and for everyone who happens to be a fan, either, of great music, impeccable jazz, or the venerable Carol Sloane the recording is a must, not only for the superior quality of entertainment but for the honor it pays to Sloane's six decades as one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. Indeed, the Washington Post once declared Sloane to be "America's greatest living jazz singer." The Washington Post would be right.

In seventy-two minutes and twelve tracks, Carol Sloane is the epitome of cool as she interprets some of the most popular songs from The Great American Songbook, a composition or two that might be slightly less well-known, and tunes fans always hoped she would record but never got around to. Working alongside such legendary musicians as Mike Renzi (piano), Jay Leonhart (bass), and Scott Hamilton (sax), Ms. Sloane is in incredible form, one song after another, grabbing the listener's attention right out of the gate with "Havin' Myself A Time" and impressively building to a spectacular and special closer that will leave the listener sated and longing for more, but just happy to have this significant recording to add to their collection. Chatting with the audience with a casual air, straightforward humor, and delightful reminiscences, Sloane proves herself to be as charming a hostess as she is an impeccable interpreter of important music; indeed, at times one might consider that listening to Sloane talk is more fun than listening to her sing. It isn't true, for the two go hand-in-hand, feeding the listening experience in an equitable balance of artistry and humanity and capturing, for all time, that which has given Sloane the popularity and the career that has lasted, lo, these sixty years.

Particular highlights on the album are an "As Long As I Live" which showcases Sloane's interpretive skills, as well as her band's consummate artistry, a thrilling "You Were Meant For Me" that brings shouts from the live audience, and a "You're Driving Me Crazy" that will leave listeners breathless. And while the up-tempo numbers are loaded with excitement and skill, let there be no mistake that Carol Sloane's emotive treatment of ballads like "Two For The Road" and an inventive medley of unhappy songs carries as much anchor to the album as the downright, straight-up swing numbers. It is a wealth of classic jazz entertainment from an artist who is to be treasured for a unique artistry informed by an impressive musical vocabulary and a clear intent at serving the art form of jazz, as well as the audience that appreciates it.

The album contains liner notes by nightclub historian James Gavin and, in an interesting twist, carries two producer credits - one for Joel Moss and one for (you guessed it) Mark D. Sendroff. It is patently clear that Mr. Sendroff knows what's good and what goes when it comes to quality musical entertainment, and since he has been doing what he can to place Carol Sloane in the spotlight, for more than a few years, let everyone trust that he knows what he is doing (and trust that this writer knows what he is saying) and pick up a copy of Carol Sloane Live At Birdland: it's an album that demands to be heard and enjoyed.

Worth. Catching.

Carol Sloane Live At Birdland is a 2022 release on the Club 44 label and is available on all streaming platforms, and as a CD.

Club 44 Records has a website HERE.

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