It’s Not About the Melody

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Cahn,Mercer,Porter
WORKS: jazz
PERFORMER: Betty Carter (v) with various trios & Craig Handy (ts)
CATALOGUE NO: 513 870-2


This year’s been a good one for female jazz singers: the UK’s Tina May and Claire Martin have both produced excellent albums, US virtuoso Shirley Horn surpassed herself with the plush, melancholic Here’s to Life; now, the greatest of them all, Betty Carter has issued this superb album. She covers familiar Carter territory – Porter, Cahn, Mercer leavened with gutsy originals – but her trump card, as ever, is her extraordinary emotional intensity. Even jazz singers with less radical approaches to melody tend to obscure lyrics’ meanings in displays of technical virtuosity; Carter’s vocal pyrotechnics – from the trademark swooning yawn to the husky whisper – all spring from a profound sympathy with the spirit of each song she sings, thoroughly justifying the claim in the album’s title. Chris Parker