Carmen McRae

For Lady Day, Vol. 2

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The second volume of Carmen McRae's heartfelt tribute to Billie Holiday, like the first, comes from a broadcast taped by WBGO-FM at the Blue Note in New York City on New Year's Eve, 1983. McRae takes a few minutes to explain the evolution of her tribute and she hardly attempts to sing Holiday's material in the same way, but utilizing her own powerful, emotional approach, often lagging behind the beat. McRae also delves into songs that Holiday performed but are not as readily associated with her, such as "Laughing at Life" and "You Ain't Gonna Bother Me No More." Her rhythm section, including pianist Marshall Otwell, bassist John Leftwich, and drummer Donald Bailey, provides strong support, with the occasional appearance of tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims (especially on "My Old Flame" and "Mean to Me") providing an added bonus. Like the first volume, this Novus CD was not released until after McRae's death, while this outstanding set makes jazz fans wonder why record labels don't mine public radio live broadcasts for similar performances more often.

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