23 MAY 08 ANNE FARNSWORTH
The Concord Jazz compilation, Ballad Essentials, showcases Carol Sloane's sweet, smoky voice and life-long dedication to the American Songbook. The New England native may be the most famous singer you've never heard of.
She's worked steadily since the late-'50s singing with big bands, playing the jazz festival circuit in Europe and Japan, opening for comics like Bill Cosby and Lenny Bruce. She's appeared on television with Arthur Godfrey and, in the early-'60s, was a regular on the pre-show warm-up for the Johnny Carson Show. She's booked jazz clubs and hosted her own radio programs.
The 11 ballads, selected from previously recorded albums, create a pensive, thoughtful mood. On several cuts, like "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" and "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning," she includes the verse. Seldom heard, a standard's verse expands the story of the lyric, adding nuance and specificity to the "plot." Why don't more singers take advantage of these tailor-made intros to the chorus?
A horn section that includes guests Phil Woods, Steve Turre and Clark Terry joins Sloane on these sessions. Stefan Scaggiari, NPR's Weekend Edition pianist, leads the rhythm section, lending sensitive and supple support. He tours frequently with Sloane and their simpatico is obvious.
Still actively supporting jazz, Sloane maintains a website and blog -- technical savvy unusual for someone of her generation. If she only gave us thoughtful interpretations of classic American standards, we'd be fortunate. Helping to keep interest in jazz alive is icing on the cake.