Carmen McRae

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Other than a record for Bethlehem and a few scattered selections, this LP (most of which has been reissued on CD) has Carmen McRae's earliest recordings. Although her voice is higher than it would be and her style is not as recognizable, she was already a top-notch singer at this early stage. Some numbers have McRae joined by the Mat Matthews Quintet (featuring Matthews on accordion and the young Herbie Mann on flute), while others have her joined by pianist Dick Katz, guitarist Mundell Lowe, bassist Wendell Marshall, and her ex-husband Kenny Clarke on drums. McRae plays piano on "Suppertime," and Billy Strayhorn sits in on his own "Something to Live For." Among the other songs that McRae uplifts and swings are "Give Me the Simple Life," "Sometimes I'm Happy," "Yardbird Suite," and "This Will Make You Laugh."

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