Janet Carroll may not be a name that jumps out to seasoned jazz fans, but the veteran singer/actress has built an extensive résumé in film, television, and on-stage, in addition to several earlier self-produced jazz albums. The gifted alto has performed extensively with jazz bands, and this 2010 Arbors release is a sure bet at getting her much wider recognition in the jazz world. Starting with Cole Porter's whimsical "The Lady Is a Tramp," she sticks closer to its original (though somewhat dated) lyrics, but injects them with a personal touch and sense of humor, then seamlessly segues into "Lady Be Good." She captures the essence of "Black Coffee" (a hit for Peggy Lee and other female vocalists), with Warren Vaché adding a playful second voice on muted cornet. One of the biggest surprises is her choice of Ida Cox's "Fore Day Creep." She dives headfirst into this vintage blues from the '20s, with David Finck providing a delicious walking bassline and tenor saxophonist Harry Allen adding gritty backing while she inserts amusing asides. The midtempo setting of "What Is This Thing Called Love" is a refreshing departure from the usual racehorse tempi on record dates, opening in a bossa nova mood then transforming into bop. Carroll is also very relaxed when she sings the original Spanish lyric to the bittersweet "Besame Mucho." Her final selection is a dreamy rendition of "You'll Never Know," backed solely by Mike Renzi's elegant piano.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden