Monday, April 7, 2008

Remember ...

Tomorrow would have been Carmen McRae's 88th birthday.





This is the way I remember her: smiling, happy, full of good humor and always glad to see me. She knew of my admiration ... love, of course ... for her as a person, and my genuine reverence for her extraordinary musicianship. We spent many hours together, in various dressing rooms, at recording sessions, on the phone, in her car and in her home in LA. When she laughed, the room vibrated; when she spewed venom, people, animals and birds hastily fled the scene. She was my friend and is my favorite singer of all time. I miss her every day.

3 comments:

Jim Brown said...

I worked with Carmen a half dozen times -- as a sound engineer in clubs and concerts, and as a recording engineer for NPR. I also paid to hear her at every opportunity over the years.

Carmen was, by far, the classiest of her generation. I never heard her do a set that was less than good, and most were great. She had huge respect for her audience, working hard to keep her show interesting and fresh. Alternate sets were always different from the other, and a fan who attended performances a year or so apart heard different shows. And when she sat at the piano to play and sing, it was magic.

A two-CD set I recorded in Chicago at Ratso's in 1976 was a great example of that -- she had incorporated songs by a half dozen contemporary songwriters into her sets, making them hers, and often, much more so than had those who recorded them as "hits." But it wasn't only those new songs -- the standards were there, and every reading got you in the gut.

She didn't know me -- I was one of those nameless guys doing my job -- but I loved her.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown said...

I worked with Carmen a half dozen times -- as a sound engineer in clubs and concerts, and as a recording engineer for NPR. I also paid to hear her at every opportunity over the years.

Carmen was, by far, the classiest of her generation. I never heard her do a set that was less than good, and most were great. She had huge respect for her audience, working hard to keep her show interesting and fresh. Alternate sets were always different from the other, and a fan who attended performances a year or so apart heard different shows. And when she sat at the piano to play and sing, it was magic.

A two-CD set I recorded in Chicago at Ratso's in 1976 was a great example of that -- she had incorporated songs by a half dozen contemporary songwriters into her sets, making them hers, and often, much more so than had those who recorded them as "hits." But it wasn't only those new songs -- the standards were there, and every reading got you in the gut.

She didn't know me -- I was one of those nameless guys doing my job -- but I loved her.

Jim Brown

Maiysha Vaughn said...

Jim thank you for your comments about Carmen. She was indeed Fabulous.