If you appreciate jazz standards and George Gershwin tunes performed with peerless élan, you should definitely know about the pianist and singer Barbara Carroll. She got her start in the late ‘40s on legendary 52nd Street, the home to America’s jazz hot spots, playing alternating sets with Dizzy Gillespie’s band at a club called the Downbeat. Ironically, the recording that is “How Long Has This Been Going On” (Harbinger Records) was recorded live at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (the jazz club at Jazz At Lincoln Center) in March 2010, and this quartet date reveals a still vital artist who knows how to charm a crowd with both song and sophistication.
Joining Ms. Carroll is the flawless bassist, Jay Leonhart, along with Alvin Atkinson on drums, and Ken Peplowski on tenor sax and clarinet. There’s an obvious dynamism that occurs between the pianist and Peplowski and it juices the set immeasurably, especially on the five-tune Gershwin medley that grounds the recording. From the bounce of “Fascinating Rhythm” to a jam-like “I Got Rhythm,” this pair playfully scampers around one another, weaving notes and counter melodies with aplomb. Unlike her previous recording (2008’s "Something To Live For"), which included Ms. Carroll accompanying herself on vocals for much of that album, here she limits herself only to one—the title tune. With a bewitching combination of song and expressive storytelling, she summons a magical moment when Peplowski underscores the pianist’s solo with his soft, breathy tenor ala Ben Webster, and visions of New York as filmed by Woody Allen at twilight dance in your head. (10 tracks; 53:22 minutes) www.barbaracarrolljazz.com
Labels: Alvin Atkinson, Barbara Carroll, Harbinger Records, Jay Leonhart, Ken Peplowski