Carmen McRae

Diva

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If you are making a shortlist of the best jazz singers, Carmen McRae had better be right at the top. She had a distinctive voice, able to do heartbreaking and lighthearted equally as thrillingly. She had an unerring sense of melody and her phrasing is a thing of beauty. This collection covers her work in the mid-'50s for Decca both with small groups and larger orchestras. She shines on swinging tracks like "Comes Love," "Falling in Love With Love," and "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket" and won't leave a dry eye in the house with her deeply emotional ballad singing. "Do You Know Why," "Midnight Sun," and the achingly beautiful "I'm Glad There Is You" are prime examples of McRae's way with a ballad. Each of the 16 tracks here is like a primer on how to be a vocalist, jazz or otherwise. McRae's entry in Verve's Diva Series is a fine introduction to her 1950s recordings.

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