Carmen McRae (1922-1994) is found in concert at Ratso’s in 1976. She had been the star performer on the night the Chicago club opened a year earlier.
Always known as a "musician’s singer", McRae shows her ample talents on this fine session. Her accompaniment includes long-time cohorts, Marshall Otwell and Joey Baron. Otwell has since left music but Baron continued to become the top-notch drummer he is today. Bassist, Ed Bennett stayed with Carmen for three years after this appearance.
Like her prime influence, Billie Holiday, McRae enjoyed standards but loved to experiment with new material. She flows through the standards, Sunday, My Old Flame and Tain’t Nobody’s Business
with supreme confidence. She swings perfectly on Sunday
scatting as only Carmen can when given almost seven minutes to strut her stuff. The tune also brings out the best in bassist, Ed Bennett and he becomes entirely mesmerized by the singer’s attack.
McRae toys with many new songs by composers of the seventies. Delightful interpretations of songs by Barry Mann, Bill Withers and Roger Kellaway are standouts. Carmen takes time out to inject a sampling of her own sense of humor in monologue and in song. Tain’t Nobody’s Business
is a fine example of her great wit.
The vocalist is "in her element" while delivering Like a Lover
penned by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Dori Caymmi and Nelson Motta. McRae takes a full six minutes to extract every last drop of emotion from the song. When the listener expects Carmen is emotionally drained, she applies her talents to another beautiful ballad, Guess Who I Saw Today
You’ll enjoy this session by a legendary artist.