At Ratso’s, Vol. 1

COMPOSERS: Carmen Mcrae
LABELS: Hitchcock Media
PERFORMER: Carmen Mcrae
CATALOGUE NO: CD-0808

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Happily, Carmen Mcrae At Ratso’s finds the jazz diva at the peak of her pure, unadulterated and unplugged form from a previously unreleased 1976 club date, vigorously supported by her eager, sensitive trio (pianist Marshall Otwell, bassist Ed Bennett and the young Joey Baron on drums).

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Her timing is frighteningly acute, and her genius for hatching up sudden twists at the ends of phrases resonates at full throttle. Granted, some of the song choices don’t wear well (Eric Carmen’s ‘All By Myself’, Bob Lind’s ‘Elusive Butterfly’), but a sublimely varied Ellington medley provides the show’s centrepiece and emotional fulcrum.