Carol Sloane

Jazz Singer


The Voice of Experience Swings With a Buoyant Calm

by Stephen Holden New York Times, August 21, 2001

There are no shortcuts to the serene autumnal grove from which the jazz singer Carol Sloane spins out songs of experience in a warm, slightly husky voice that swings steadily while projecting a reassuring calm. This singer in her 60's, who is appearing through Sept. 1 as part of the summer jazz series at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, is a die-hard classicist raised on Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. (It was a Vaughan recording of "Deep Purple," that inspired Ms. Sloane to become a jazz singer, she recalls in her show.)

Instead of pyrotechnics she strives for an ideal mixture of clarity, emotional balance and buoyancy. And her minimalist inclinations are seconded by the spare backup of Norman Simmons's piano and Paul West's bass.

As much as any singer of her generation, Ms. Sloane understands the value of restraint. Even in the most animated numbers, her voice never rises above a conversational level. Her ballads convey with a quiet authority the assimilated wisdom of a woman who has been there, done that and moved on. She luxuriates in her introspective material, savoring the lyrics and lingering over the ends of phrases in a sweet humming vibrato.

Ms. Sloane is a connoisseur of obscure pop-jazz gems, and her show has many happy surprises. The up- tempo tour de force is her impeccable rendition of the tongue-twisting Lambert, Hendricks and Ross chestnut "Cottontail" (from a Ben Webster solo with lyrics by Jon Hendricks). As for the ballads, under Ms. Sloane's tender care Lee Wing's "An Older Man Is Like an Elegant Wine," Alan Broadbent and Dave Frishberg's "Heart's Desire" (a rare Frishberg lyric not soured by caustic wit) and Bart Howard's wildly romantic "I'll Be Easy to Find" emerge as neglected classics.