Nov 14, 2015

Betty & Rays's First Time, Carmen & George Get Into It, Plus Lang Soars And A One To Love Secret Song!


In a world that's lately gone completely mad, I think it's more than the right time for a bit of heart-cleansing levity, or as the inimitable Chuckles the Clown says, "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants." And, yes, soul-reviving music. A fool's paradise? Maybe. But I'll take it.

And who better to lead the charge than Betty Carter? In 1955, she made a stunning debut with jazz pianist Ray Carter in a 12-song set now justly regarded as historic. But don't worry, there's no mothballs here; their performances still have the shock of the new, of raw talent bursting at its seams. Betty was only twenty-five, yet her rangy, expressive voice sounded fully seasoned - and a lot freer than someone just earning their chops. But maybe it isn't a big surprise given her indomitable spirit.

At only sixteen-years-old, she began earning notice at amateur singing contests, then forged her birth certificate to play club dates - and all the while, her family gave her no encouragement, and in fact, actively disapproved. Yet her talent saved the day. She would later distinguish herself with head-turning improvisational scats, and a bit of that comes through in "Meet Betty Carter And Ray Carter" - a Bouncy Betty Best Cheerful Exclusive! (complete with bonus tracks) - especially when she sings "Frenesi," a three-minute vocal thrill ride that stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it (in a good way). 


Of course, it's not just the young who spread joy through music. Sometimes "the olds," as the kids say, can give you something only they possess: experience. Case in point, Carmen McRae. 


Did you know? In 1980, at age sixty, she joined forces with George Shearing, age sixty-one, for the mesmerizing "Two For The Road" - a Cool Carmen Cheerful Exclusive! - a gorgeously melancholic LP that finds both in top form. Just a lady and a piano. Simple. Deceptively simple, too, is Carmen's vocal delivery, since she's seldom been more subtle, her just-behind-the-beat phrasing honed by years of life on the road as a celebrated jazz singer. So see? Some things really do get better with age. Or they're simply ageless.


Did you see Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty" late last year? Did you love it? Me, too. This year, the filmmaker debuted "Youth" at the Cannes Film Festival, and it's just now being released in North America.


Paolo's taste in music remains stellar, and along with tracks from Paloma Faith, David Byrne and others, he's continued his collaboration with the post minimalist modernist terrific American composer David Lang, who contributes the film's haunting theme song performed by none other than soprano diva Sumi Jo as lead vocalist. It's quite a treat, just like the movie.


Uh-oh. Thanksgiving it coming - and you know what that means. The Secret Song File's beloved Aunt Fiona is going to make a mess at the table. And tell you about her ill-fitting thong. And her hot, twenty-two year-old (possibly mentally-impaired) boyfriend. Oh, and the time she rubbed bacon grease all over...well, you get the picture.


Still, the Secret Song File has long put up with Aunt Fiona. Why, you ask? Because she has great taste in music. It was Aunt Fiona, after all, who introduced her to a twenty-five-year-old American jazz vocal phenom who just "keeps on keepin' on," as Auntie likes to say. And her latest CD is heavenly. But remember. Don't serve Aunt Fiona peas. You'll be picking them up of the floor for weeks!

Vive all you like in the comments!

Support France: on "Beaujolais Nouveau Day," November 19th, purchase a few bottles of their best, daub yourself with a little Chanel No. 5, put out a baguette with Brie de Meaux and toast with a few friends. They'll thank you. And so will the French.

11 comments:

Larry said...

Thanks for sharing the great music with us. I especially love the Betty Carter & Ray Bryant album.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're welcome, Larry. Glad you're enjoying the Betty and Ray!

Faze said...

Thanks for turning me on to "The Great Beauty". I especially loved the end credit sequence, as the camera drifts up the river ...

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Me, too. Such a gorgeous movie.

Larry said...

I've been peeking back into earlier Cheerful posts again. Came across Nancy Walker and co in "My Square Laddie." I love "My Fair Lady" and this odd ball send up looks delightful. Sadly, the old link is mort. Apologies for being a re-up requesting pest, but could you please re-up? Thanks for everything.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Ta-da! Nancy re-upped. Enjoy!

Larry said...

Thanks for the re-up Cheerful. It's a very entertaining record.

Svejdaland said...

Betty and Ray are gone. Can you re-up?

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Should be ok now.

Anita O'Day Fan said...

Hey, thanks for your great blog. Any chance of reposting the McRae/Shearing album? Thank you!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

It's ready to go for you Anita Fan. Enjoy!