Carmen McRae

Fine and Mellow: Live at Birdland West

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Although Carmen McRae is the obvious star of her live record (which has been reissued on CD), she gives plenty of solo space to her notable all-star band (Red Holloway on tenor and alto, organist Jack McDuff, guitarist Phil Upchurch, bassist John Clayton, and drummer Paul Humphrey). McRae did not record in this context with an organ group very often. All seven songs (which range in length from four minutes to the nine-and-a-half-minute title track) are swing-era standards except for Eubie Blake's "My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More," which dates back to the early '20s, but McRae updates them a bit and makes them sound relevant and swinging. Recommended.

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