Betty Carter

Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant/Little Susie

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This compilation is, indeed, a good way to meet the extraordinary vocal talents of Betty Carter and the elegant, versatile swing of pianist Ray Bryant. The CD comprises a 1955 release -- Carter and Bryant's first under their own names -- and a 1959 trio date from Bryant. The earlier set alternates between tracks with Carter and the Bryant trio and others with just the trio. Later in her career, Carter would move toward a more avant-garde approach. Here, while far from unconventional, Carter uses her unique gifts to make a set of familiar songs her own. Her transformative reinterpretations of six standards result in versions that some will be tempted to consider definitive. Bryant and the trio provide tasteful, classy, discreet backup. Moving into the spotlight on the trio tracks, Bryant and company play with engaging swing and finesse. There is also a very good flutist, possibly Jerome Richardson, on a couple of the tracks with Carter. Little Susie, from 1959, provides a reliable sampling of Bryant's abilities in settings that cover the soul-jazz of the title track, blues, and boppish standards. The only letdown is a superfluous rendition of "Greensleeves." ("If I Can Just Make It Into Heaven," from the original Columbia release, does not appear here.) Backed by his brother Tommy Bryant on bass, and Eddie Locke and Gus Johnson alternating on drums, Bryant unfurls his deceptively easygoing virtuosity in performances that ably display his supple technique and joyous command of the keyboard.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:19
2 3:28
3 2:55
4 1:43
5 3:38
6 2:41
7 2:47
8 4:15
9 4:02
10 2:45
11 2:55
12 2:29
14 3:23
18 5:13
19 2:29
20 5:41
21 4:04
blue highlight denotes track pick