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  • Carmen McRae Sings Lover Man and Other Billie Holiday Classics
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Carmen McRae Sings Lover Man and Other Billie Holiday Classics


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Product details

  • Audio CD (17 Feb. 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Legacy
  • ASIN: B000024D5A
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 360,116 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Jan. 2006
Format: Audio CD
In this stunning CD, Carmen McRae pays homage to her friend and idol, Billie Holiday, singing the twelve songs on the original album, plus two bonus tracks--"If the Moon Turns Green," sung as a wonderfully slow ballad, and Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song," with its slower than usual pacing.
With her strong alto, huge range, and ability to change moods, McRae varies her sound throughout the CD, sometimes sounding deliberately gravelly, then switching to softly sweet and romantic, matching the timbre of the instruments accompanying her. She alternates her tempo from slow and dramatic to lively, jazzy, flirty, or intimate. Always, she and the musicians accompanying her are in perfect sync, both in interpreting the lyrics and improvising with the melodies.
Every song is a winner. "Them There Eyes," begins with McRae singing off-rhythm, accompanied by a simple bass (Bob Cranshaw) and drums (Walter Perkins) before the sax (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) enters. "I'm Gonna Lock My Heart," is the happiest, with McRae hitting some surprising high notes. "Miss Brown to You," swings in a loose, flirty manner, and "I Cried for You" features McRae sounding like a muted trumpet and wailing. "Lover Man" is wonderfully bluesy, with a toe-tapping rhythm and improvisation, while "A Little Moonlight," with great piano (Norman Simmons), sax (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) and trumpet (Nat Adderley) solos, is wild and impassioned.
"Yesterdays," my favorite, begins as a slow, harshly melancholy song with sensitive piano background, then suddenly pauses slightly in the middle, and shifts to a faster, jazzier, more rhythmic line in which McRae is up and down and all over the scale.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
One of the All Time Greats 16 Oct. 2004
By Rick Cornell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In June of 2004, "Down Beat" Magazine's Frank-John Hadley polled 73 of the top jazz singers in the world for a list of the 30 greatest vocal jazz albums of all time. This one ended up #5. I say, "Right on." This is truly one of the all-time greats.

In fact, ironically, this one ended up higher than any of Billie Holiday's albums ("Billie Holiday on Commodore"--#8, in case you're interested.), and this is a Lady Day tribute. But after a number of listens, I'm here to say--it's no accident. The worlds' finest know what they're talking about.

Carmen McRae swings like mad here, in a way that Lady Day never did. She even swings the last chorus of "Yesterdays", and "Trav'lin' Light", two songs I've not heard swung before. And the way she swings "Them There Eyes", "I'm Gonna Lock My Heart (And Throw Away the Key)", "Miss Brown To You", "I Cried For You" and "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" will have you snapping your fingers and dancing around the room. Terrific, terrific stuff--and Nat Adderley and Lockjaw Davis' solos on "Moonlight" make this rival the immortal version of Lady Day's.

But Lady Day was the tops for honest emotion, and Ms. McRae is every bit her equal here. Carmen hits every color of anger, bitterness and resignation in "Strange Fruit", as Lady Day did in the famous original. Her handling of the phrase "They Don't Come 'Round No More" in "God Bless the Child" matches the world-weary disappointment in dependent false friends that Billie Holiday conveyed in the original. And when Ms. McRae sings "Make Love to Me" in "Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You be)", there not only is no doubt about what she means, but you better drop what you're doing and get busy, Mister!!

BTW, the 73 have Carmen's "Carmen Sings Monk" at #4. These two albums rank higher than any album cut by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan or Miss Holiday. After listening to this, I'm thinking that, as revered as she was, Carmen McRae was probably the most underrated jazz singer who ever lived. RC
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Carmen's Got Billie Under Her Skin 16 April 2001
By Peter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD probably ranks among the top 5 CD's Carmen McRae's ever recorded, and we're talking about an artist who's done close to 70 in her career. What distinguishes this particular CD are the strong lineup of chosen songs and group of sidemen selected to back Carmen. As any fan of Carmen knows, Billie was her idol and mentor; Carmen basically lived and breathed these songs because they're so closely identified to Lady Day. The tribute album was a natural progression for Carmen, though not without some resistance. Carmen even notes in the liner that the record company wouldn't let her record the album until almost two years after Lady's death. Each song has Carmen's heart and soul written all over it. It is truly an inspired performance because these songs mean so much to her personally. One or two of the guys here actually played with Billie as well such as Harry "Sweets" Edison. Norman Simmons on piano makes a great counterpart to Oscar Peterson. On a technical and emotional level, this is one of Carmen's great works of the heart and with much love to her Lady. Her fans are all the better for it.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
McRae's fitting tribute to her musical idol, Billie Holiday. 14 Jun. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
McRae recorded for numerous labels during her career. "Lover Man" is without doubt her finest for Columbia, one of her best overall and quite possibly her first "great" recording. Norman Simmons' clean and tasty arrangements free McRae from string-laden efforts on previous labels, and thus allow her to utilize her "jazz chops" on record as never before. Although the songs are all associated with her musical idol, McRae never copies Billie Holiday. She instead puts lessons learned from the master about phrasing, improvisation and feeling into her own distinct sound. A worthy addition to any collection of jazz or popular singing.
New life and meaning for some of Billie's greatest songs. 30 Sept. 2005
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In this stunning CD, Carmen McRae pays homage to her friend and idol, Billie Holiday, singing the twelve songs on the original album, plus two bonus tracks--"If the Moon Turns Green," sung as a wonderfully slow ballad, and Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song," with its slower than usual pacing.

With her strong alto, huge range, and ability to change moods, McRae varies her sound throughout the CD, sometimes sounding deliberately gravelly, then switching to softly sweet and romantic, matching the timbre of the instruments accompanying her. She alternates her tempo from slow and dramatic to lively, jazzy, flirty, or intimate. Always, she and the musicians accompanying her are in perfect sync, both in interpreting the lyrics and improvising with the melodies.

Every song is a winner. "Them There Eyes," begins with McRae singing off-rhythm, accompanied by a simple bass (Bob Cranshaw) and drums (Walter Perkins) before the sax (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) enters. "I'm Gonna Lock My Heart," is the happiest, with McRae hitting some surprising high notes. "Miss Brown to You," swings in a loose, flirty manner, and "I Cried for You" features McRae sounding like a muted trumpet and wailing. "Lover Man" is wonderfully bluesy, with a toe-tapping rhythm and improvisation, while "A Little Moonlight," with great piano (Norman Simmons), sax (Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) and trumpet (Nat Adderley) solos, is wild and impassioned.

"Yesterdays," my favorite, begins as a slow, harshly melancholy song with sensitive piano background, then suddenly pauses slightly in the middle, and shifts to a faster, jazzier, more rhythmic line in which McRae is up and down and all over the scale. "Strange Fruit," one of Holiday's signature songs, is finely articulated, and McRae's phrasing and ironically sweet tones give even more emphasis to the horrifying lyrics as Mundell Lowe's guitar provides the mournful accompaniment. The remixing and the total absence of background noise add incredible drama to this already powerful song. "God Bless the Child," written by Holiday, is slow and intimate, and as McRae phrases the story, her wailing adds poignancy to the lyrics.

Blessed with a voice and style that naturally adapts to any kind of jazz, along with the ability to articulate lyrics with perfect enunciation and phrasing, McRae is the consummate musician here. Singing some of Billie Holiday's best songs, and accompanied by world class artists with whom she is totally in sync, McRae in this CD is as good as it gets. n Mary Whipple
Finally a tribute that makes sense 9 April 2009
By Sasha - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Carmen Mc Rae always loved - nah,make it idolized - Billie Holiday and through her long career always returned to Holiday's songs,often sang them in concerts and talked about her great mentor and how much Holiday ment to her when she was young and aspiring artist.
So this album makes far more sense than many other tribute to Holiday - Sam Cooke and Tonny Bennet for example,not to mention Rosemary Clooney and Diana Ross (and Beyonce probably,give her time) as McRae actually knew Billie Holiday,learned from her,celebrated birthdays with her,partied with her and loved her music.
Not once McRae tries to imitate Holiday - she sings her famous songs,backed by snappy jazz combo but always sounds excatly like Carmen McRae and make no mistake about it.She is majestic,clear,crisp,clear diction and all - gets into lyrics like actress and really loves these songs,one can tell she knows them inside out - the point can be made here that Ella never really went into message of the lyrics as half as much as McRae who really meant every word she sang and that is perhaps the greatest and most important lesson she learned from Billie Holiday.
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