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Interview with Carol Sloane

Carol Sloane is not only a nifty lady, but also a fabulous singer who can be counted among the great jazz vocalists of her time. Her albums are all first-rate and there isn't a bad one in the bunch. I like that! How many artists produce album after album, with only a few of them counting as highly rated? Carol has 15 marvelous albums to her credit and has appeared on numerous other albums that are equally as wonderful. I recommend at least one of her albums as a "must-have" for your jazz collection, if not more. Her concert over the 3-day weekend at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2000 was absolutely breathtaking and one which this writer will remember with great affection. I only wish I had had more time to talk with her as she has a many jazz stories to tell and is a great conversationalist.

Ladies and gentlemen, a small slice of that wonderful lady of jazz, Carol Sloane. . . You hit some low notes in some of your songs, Carol. How do you get that low?

Carol Sloane: "I quit smoking! Actually, I think it's age. I sang lots of low notes when I was young. I had this one song I sang in A-Flat. I still sing it in the same key, so that means I take care of myself. I used to warm up a lot, but I don't ever warm up, ever, anymore. I went to some operatic teachers once and said to them, 'I'm warming up and I think I'm doing something wrong 'cause I get so tired when I am on stage.' She asked, 'How do you warm up?' I said, 'I sing to Pavarotti, King of the high C's .la, la, la, la, la, la, la!' She told me not to warm up and to drink lots of water. So, I don't warm up and I drink champagne!" How did you get started singing?

Carol Sloane: "In grade school, I traveled on the bus everyday to go to school. I had to pass a sign on the side of the road that said 'Boston 45 miles, New York 125 miles.' I just knew I had to go. When I heard Bebop, I was still a young girl, but it was like someone hit me on the head with a thunderbolt. I almost knew instantly. It was like a siren song. When I heard Miles and Bird, well, I've always stayed there. Bebop is it for me!

I'm 63 now and started singing when I was 14, and for money too! I made nine dollars a night. Can you imagine when you are 14-years old and you hear a woman singing (Carol sings) 'We'll drink from dry glasses .There's no need for wine A champagne is (ha, ha, ha!)? Hey, I'm a Catholic girl going to Catholic school. Can you imagine? Who the heck ever heard of anyone drinking wine from a dry glass? I was so fascinated by the lyrics. I mean it makes more sense than someone singing 'come-on-a my house, my house-a come-on, I'm gonna give you candy.'

When I was very young and just starting out, I would go to watch other singers and listen very carefully. I'd buy the records and listen to everything so intently. I used to listen to the live broadcasts from Birdland and I'd think, 'oh I mean that's it, isn't it? I wanna be part of that!' I wanted be in New York and know why those people at Birdland were laughing in the background .it sounded like they knew something I didn't know. There were these little inside jokes through the music and the tickling of glasses, but I was gonna find out. I had to go there." You told me all about wanting to go to New York from an early age. How old were you when you actually got to New York and how did that come about?

Carol Sloane: "My first trip to New York was made in 1953, when I made my first recording. A couple of Rhode Island songwriters had paid for the session to record their song, and the record company operated a 'mill,' where musicians were hired to sit for 6-8 hours, reading the music for each singer who came through the door. I have one copy of this rare '78 with the Side A title 'So Long.' Of course, I actually moved to New York many years later in 1958 when I joined the Larry Elgart Orchestra." What was your first gig in New York?

Carol Sloane: "My first gig on my own was a two-week engagement at The Village Vanguard, opening for Oscar Peterson. This was August, 1961. Do you have any regrets? Was there something you wanted to do, but never got to do?

Carol Sloane: "I have a huge regret that keeps popping up in the polls in the category 'Deserving Wider Recognition' after all these years. Basically, I am happy to be involved with jazz and its practitioners and fans. I think I'd have made a good lawyer and I'd like to be a better writer." You now host a jazz radio program on WICN. How did that come about? How long have you been doing it and do you ever sneak in a recording of yours on the show?

Carol Sloane: "This came about because the station began asking me about hosting a show more than five years ago. All the elements came into place recently, and I agreed to host Jazz Matinee. I started the show in March (2000) and I have played ONE track from ONE of my recordings ONCE! This was a duet with Clark Terry from our 'The Songs Ella and Louis Sang,' on Concord Jazz."

If you haven't had the supreme pleasure of hearing the vocal artistry of Carol Sloane, you are surely missing out. You can also join Carol in Cyberspace at Jazz Matinee, Mon-Thurs, 3-7 PM Eastern Time and Friday, 3-6 PM Eastern Time at

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Carol Sloane
  • Interview Date: 7/1/2000
  • Subtitle: North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague, Netherlands
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