Carol Sloane has paid her dues over a career that stretches over half a century, surviving the various detours into temporary fads and the fickle whims of the jazz marketplace. For her 37th album as a leader, the vocalist chose to omit both piano and drums, looking toward a cleaner, more intimate sound, which she achieves throughout the sessions. She could have hardly picked a better guitarist than Bucky Pizzarelli, a master who seems to have accompanied nearly everyone and has encyclopedic knowledge of thousands of songs, along with one of her biggest fans, tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Peplowski (who has long told jazz journalists that she is one of his favorite vocalists), and veteran bassist Steve LaSpina. The Basie-like swing setting of "Exactly Like You," adding young violinist Aaron Weinstein to the trio, will have listeners tapping their feet along with it. Joe Williams' longtime pianist Norman Simmons wrote "If You Could Love Me" back in the 1950s, though the song never caught a wide audience -- Sloane's warm bossa nova setting is complemented by Peplowski's lyrical clarinet. Sloane exhibits both warmth and playfulness in "Zoot Walks In," opening with an unaccompanied half-chorus, then follows it with a snappy segment accompanied solely by LaSpina's walking bass. Peplowski salutes the late great Zoot Sims with a spirited tenor solo, after which Weinstein adds a wry chorus on violin in the manner of Ray Nance. Sloane is at her very best tackling the bittersweet "A Cottage for Sale," imbuing it with emotion without getting carried away. Carol Sloane is like a fine vintage wine; her voice keeps improving with time.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden