Carol Sloane

Jazz Singer

Carol Sloane at Birdland

by Paul (Mad4McRae) Mikos
November, 2018

Carol Sloane has been pretty busy lately for any jazz singer, let alone for the veteran of a sixty year career who will celebrate her 82nd birthday on March 5th. She is still as vibrant, salty and sultry as any woman half her age and shows little signs of slowing down any time soon. She has appeared most recently in Toronto, Raleigh, Durham along with two runs in New York as well as conducting Master Classes and working with her longtime friend, Steven Barefoot, on a documentary film of her life and career among other projects.

On both nights I caught her (Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th) Carol regally commanded the attention of everyone, not with vocal pyro-techniques and demonstrative gesticulations but in what has become her singular art, singing quietly and vividly with reverent feeling for what she is telling us as if we are guests in her living room leaning in to hang on her every word. She was masterfully accompanied by the incomparable duo of Mike Renzi on piano and Jay Leonhart on bass who, like the true pros they are, instinctively gave her all the space she needed to draw us in as well as entertain us with wonderful anecdotes of her life and storied career along the way. The respect and pleasure these three artists have for each other was palpable throughout the rapt room.

She filled her set with a dozen tunes she has previously recorded and obviously loves as well as re-dipping her toe in two things she says she had previously distained. Scatting and medleys. The unlikely combination of Fools Rush In with I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues was suggested by Renzi and worked surprisingly well allowing Sloane to stretch out in two of her specialties, delivering a heartbreaking ballad and swinging effortlessly. She often playfully scatted with Leonhart who added his own harmonious vocalizations as well as his inventive bass work in counterpoint to Carol's improvisations.

It has been a while since the jazz world has had the pleasure of having Carol Sloane gigging regularly, but if the last 4 evenings of full houses in the beautiful new Birdland Theater space below the venerated larger venue on 44th is any indication, I am obviously not alone in my delight. We indeed have something to celebrate this Thanksgiving season.

Set list:
While We're Young
Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
Isn't It A Pity
Blue Turning Grey Over You
You'll See
Gentleman Friend
I See A Million People
I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
Fools Rush In / I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues
Autumn In New York
Exactly Like You
Baubles, Bangles and Beads
For All We Know