Carol Sloane

Jazz Singer

Carol Sloane at Birdland

by Gregg Culling
Songbirds - September 23, 2019

For a while this weekend, it seemed the world had stopped being crazy, and we all loved each other. At least that’s how it appeared at Birdland Theatre NYC with Ms. Carol Sloane, jazz singer extraordinaire along with her perfect trio: Mike Renzi on piano, Jay Leonhart on bass, and Scott Hamilton on tenor sax. The audience consisted of jazz lovers from around the world and the love was palpable. I wouldn’t want to have been anywhere else.

Her opener “Havin’ Myself a Time” (Rainger/Robin), a song introduced by the great Martha Raye in “Tropic Holiday” (1938) set the tone beautifully, and we went along for the ride. “Blue, Turning Grey Over You” (Waller/Razaf) gave us remembrances of days gone by when “you were so good to me; that’s when I was a novelty.” By this time, it was confirmed (as if we needed to be) that that gorgeous Sloane voice has never left, and perhaps has gotten better, if that’s even possible. Think Ella and Carmen and Sarah and Maxine. She stands among the greats, and you’d be a fool not to hear her.

Other highlights included “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You” (Styne/Loesser), the first sign that those of us who recently lost a loved one needed to buckle up, “Glad to Be Unhappy” (Rodgers/Hart) which was almost a religious experience, and “If I Should Lose You” (Rainger/Robin) when many of us just quite visibly lost it. With Renzi’s soothing chords, and Hamilton’s fantastic accents, and Leonhart’s rhythm control it was a moment of pure bliss just hearing this amazing singer open her heart for us.

Not everyone probably enjoys scat, but when done by Carol you just sit in amazement, and smile at the thrill of it. Hamilton and Leonhart sometimes egged her on, but she was always on top of it; playful and fanciful, and sexy.. Mr. Renzi was all smiles and beautiful playing.

Perhaps the pièce de résistance, at least for me, was the very beautiful Mancini and Bricusse tuner “Two for the Road.” Hers was like nothing you have heard before, at least equal to the Carmen McRae/George Shearing version, perfectly performed by all on hand. Then, to top it off, in honor of her dear friend, the late great Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, who wrote the lyrics to Johnny Mandel’s elegant music, she left us with “I’ll Always Leave the Door a Little Open,” a pleasant ending until we meet again.