Carmen McRae

Sessions, Live

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The Sessions, Live series of compilations was briefly available in the mid-'70s (only to rapidly disappear from sight); this LP has well-recorded live performances from two 1957 sessions featuring four different groups, though the personnel is undocumented except for the leader of each group and composer credits are not given. Stuff Smith leads a quartet through his swinging "Hillcrest" and the foot-tapping "Taking a Walk" as well as a sizzling "Sweet Georgia Brown." Carmen McRae is dazzling in her interpretation of "My Funny Valentine," as she both rushes and lags behind the beat; she's full of spunk in the upbeat "Exactly Like You." The Chamber Jazz Sextet, led by Allyn Ferguson, features the leader's French horn, trumpet, various reeds, and percussion in three tightly arranged numbers that seem to be a blend of third stream and cool jazz; the best track is their cool interpretation of Bach's Allemande. Pianist and singer Jeri Southern's two selections include a lively take of "I Hadn't Anyone Till You" and the conversational "Something I Dreamed Last Night." This long out of print LP is rather brief at under 29 minutes, but it is worth picking up if found at a reasonable price.

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