Carmen McRae & Betty Carter – Live at the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco {Verve}

Review by Scott Yanow (

This project is an unusual matchup between two very individual vocalists that generally works. Both Carmen McRae and Betty Carter show a lot of good humor during their duets, cracking occasional jokes and often jamming quite spontaneously. With suitable support from pianist Eric Gunnison, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Winard Harper along with a very enthusiastic audience at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, Carter usually takes vocal honors while McRae comes up with the most humorous lines. Some of the ensembles are ragged but this encounter is overall quite successful. The CD reissue adds three previously unreleased selections that feature McRae without Carter. Now if only someone had teamed together Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan for a full album.

01 – What’s New?
02 – Stolen Moments (aka “You Belong to Her”)
03 – But Beautiful
04 – Am I Blue?
05 – Glad to Be Unhappy; Where or When
06 – Sometimes I’m Happy
07 – Isn’t it Romantic?
08 – Sophisticated Lady
09 – It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got that Swing)
10 – I Hear Music
11 – Love Dance
12 – That Old Devil Moon

Betty Carter, Carmen McRae – vocals
Eric Gunnison – piano, electric piano (on #11)
Jim Hughart – bass
Winard Harper – drums

Recorded January, 30-31 & February, 1 – 1987
at the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Ben Webster meets Oscar Peterson {Verve} “Master Edition”

Review by Stephen Cook (

Another fine Webster release on Verve that sees the tenor great once again backed by the deluxe Oscar Peterson Trio. In keeping with the high standard of their Soulville collaboration of two years prior, Webster and the trio — Peterson is joined by bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen — use this 1959 date to conduct a clinic in ballad playing. And while Soulville certainly ranks as one of the tenor saxophonist’s best discs, the Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson set gets even higher marks for its almost transcendent marriage of after-hours elegance and effortless mid-tempo swing — none of Webster’s boogie-woogie piano work to break up the mood here. Besides reinvigorating such lithe strollers as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (nice bass work by Brown here) and “This Can’t Be Love,” Webster and company achieve classic status for their interpretation of the Sinatra gem “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” And to reassure Peterson fans worried about scant solo time for their hero, the pianist lays down a healthy number of extended runs, unobtrusively shadowing Webster’s vaporous tone and supple phrasing along the way. Not only a definite first-disc choice for Webster newcomers, but one of the jazz legend’s all-time great records.

01 – The Touch of Your Lips
02 – When Your Lover has Gone
03 – Bye-bye, Blackbird
04 – How Deep Is the Ocean?
05 – In the Wee, Small Hours of the Morning
06 – Sunday
07 – This Can’t Be Love

Ben Webster – tenor saxophone
Oscar Peterson – piano
Ray Brown – bass
Ed Thigpen – drums

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, scans


Gerry Mulligan – Night Lights {PHILIPS}

Review by Scott Yanow (

This is a rather relaxed recording featuring baritonist Gerry Mulligan and some of his top alumni (trumpeter Art Farmer, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Dave Bailey) exploring three of his own songs (including “Festive Minor”), Chopin’s Prelude in E minor, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” and “Morning of the Carnival” (from Black Orpheus). The emphasis is on ballads and nothing too innovative occurs, but the results are pleasing and laid-back.

01 – Night Lights (1963 Version)
02 – Morning of the Carnival [From “Black Orpheus”] (Manha de Carnaval)
03 – In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
04 – Prelude in E Minor
05 – Festival Minor
06 – Tell Me When
07 – Night Lights (1965 Version)

Gerry Mulligan – baritone saxophone and piano
Jim Hall – guitar
Bill Crow – bass
Dave Bailey – drums
Art Farmer – trumpet and fluegelhorn
Bob Brookmeyer – trombone

Recorded September, 1963 (1-6); and October, 1965 (7)

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

(Re-uploaded because of dead links)

Natalie Cole – Unforgettable with Love {Elektra}

Review by Alex Henderson (

A major change of direction for Natalie Cole, Unforgettable found the singer abandoning the type of R&B/pop she’d been recording since 1975 in favor of jazz-influenced pre-rock pop along the lines of Nat King Cole’s music. It was a surprising risk that paid off handsomely — both commercially and artistically. Naysayers who thought that so radical a change would be commercial suicide were proven wrong when the outstanding Unforgettable sold a shocking five million units. Quite clearly, this was an album Cole was dying to make. Paying tribute to her late father on “Mona Lisa,” “Nature Boy,” “Route 66,” and other gems that had been major hits for him in the 1940s and early ’50s, the 41-year-old Cole sounds more inspired than she had in well over a decade. On the title song, overdubbing was used to make it sound as though she were singing a duet with her father — dishonest perhaps, but certainly enjoyable. Thankfully, standards and pre-rock pop turned out to be a primary direction for Cole, who was a baby when the title song became a hit for her father in 1951.

“Unforgettable with Love” is a 1991 album by Natalie Cole, which focuses on covers of standards previously performed by Cole’s father, Nat King Cole. Her uncle Ike Cole plays piano on the album. The album was certified 7x platinum as of 2009 by the RIAA, and won the 1992 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, as well as a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Female the same year. (

01 – The Very Thought of You
02 – Paper Moon
03 – Route 66
04 – Mona Lisa
05 – L-O-V-E
06 – This Can’t Be Love
07 – Smile
08 – Lush Life
09 – That Sunday That Summer
10 – Orange Colored Sky
11 – A Medley Of: For Sentimental Reasons / Tenderly / Autumn Leaves
12 – Straighten Up and Fly Right
13 – Avalon
14 – Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
15 – Too Young
16 – Nature Boy
17 – Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup
18 – Almost Like Being in Love
19 – Thou Swell
20 – Non Dimenticar
21 – Our Love is Here to Stay
22 – Unforgettable

Natalie Cole – vocals, with collective personnel

Recorded November 1990 and April 1991.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, scans

Oscar Peterson Trio – In Tokyo (Live at the Palace Hotel) {Columbia} “24bit remastering”

Review by Ken Dryden (

One of a handful of recordings that Oscar Peterson made for release exclusively in Japan, Last Trio: Oscar Peterson in Tokyo is a rare opportunity to hear the pianist with fellow Canadian Michel Donato on bass, plus Louis Hayes on drums. Peterson is the center of attention with his rhythm section mostly in a supporting role, seemingly as if they had not worked together extensively prior to playing at The Palace Hotel in Tokyo. Hayes had already recorded several albums with the pianist for MPS, though this seems to be one of only two recordings featuring Donato (the other being the obscure Australian CD Nightingale). Peterson does not disappoint, delivering a number of terrific performances, including a blazing “Strike Up the Band” a soulful if breezy take of Horace Silver’s “The Preacher,” and lyrical treatments of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” and his own “Wheatland.” While this trio lacks the potential of groups that featured either Ray Brown or Niels-Henning ├śrsted Pedersen, it will please Peterson’s fans.

01 – The Good Life
02 – What am I Here For?
03 – I Hear Music
04 – What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life
05 – Strike Up the Band
06 – The More I See You
07 – Wheatland
08 – The Preacher
09 – Old Rockin’ Chair
10 – Blues Etude

Oscar Peterson – piano
Michel Donato – bass
Louis Hayes – drums

Recorded live at The Palaca Hotel, Tokyo – May 27, 1972.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Jim Hall – Live! {Verve}

Review by Scott Yanow (

This fine club date features guitarist Jim Hall in Toronto with two of the top Canadian jazzmen, bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke. The interplay between the three players is sometimes wondrous, and although the five selections are all familiar standards (such as “‘Round Midnight,” “Scrapple From the Apple” and “The Way You Look Tonight”), Hall makes the music sound fresh and full of subtleties. This enjoyable LP has yet to be reissued on CD.

01 – Angel Eyes
02 – ‘Round Midnight
03 – Scrapple from the Apple
04 – The Way You Look Tonight
05 – I Hear a Rhapsody

Jim Hall – guitar
Don Thompson – bass
Terry Clarke – drums

Recorded June 1975 at Bourbon Street, Toronto, Canada.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork