Carmen McRae With The Ray Bryant Trio: After Glow

McRae made her way in a crowded field, her singing marked by a slight huskiness, her performances in general noted for their musicianship

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On this 180-gram vinyl reissue we have an example of just one of the 12 albums Carmen McRae made when signed to Decca back in the 1950s. The sleeve indicates the presence of Ray Bryant on the piano stool but he actually only plays on four tunes. The singer and Ronnel Bright share piano duties elsewhere.

By the time After Glow was released, the vocalist had already paid her dues and in 1954 she had been named Downbeat magazine’s best female singer of the year. She was probably still underrated. The biggest hurdle she had to cope with was entering a crowded field dominated by Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald; to her great credit she came very close to emulating those great artists.

The slightest hint of huskiness singled her out from the pack. Her piano playing became an additional feature, allowing her to find work at the start of her career. From the early days, musicianship became a word associated with virtually every McRae performance, and we find that quality on each track here – yes, she could swing beautifully but when presented with a ballad such as My Funny Valentine or I’m Through With Love, those musical sensitivities came to the fore.

This is the original album plus one bonus track – Something To Live For – recorded two years before.


Discography
(1) I Can’t Escape From You; (2) Guess Who I Saw Today; My Funny Valentine; (1) The Little Things That Mean So Much; (3) I’m Thru With Love; Nice Work If You Can Get It; (1) East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon); (1) Exactly Like You; (3) All My Life; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; (2) Dream Of Life; (1) Perdido; Something To Live For (42.30)
(1) McRae (p, v); Ike Isaacs (b); Specs Wright (d). New York, 3 March 1957.
(2) as (1) but McRae (v) and add Ronnell Bright (p).
(3) as (2) but omit Bright add Ray Bryant (p). 18 April 1957.
(4) McRae (v); Billy Strayhorn (p); Mundell Lowe (g); Wendell Marshall (b); Kenny Clarke (d) New York, 14 June 1955.
Supper Club 072