Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Favorite Blossom Dearie ...

****** Blossom Dearie died on Saturday, February 7 this year in her Greenwich Village apartment. This video is a perfect example of Blossom's understated delivery, and what I like best is the tempo. Typically, she conveys a parfait lightness as well undeniable swing and charm.

I believe this video quickly made the YouTube circuit immediately after the announcement of her passing, but I'd like to share it with those of you who may have missed seeing it, to remind us all of how unique and wonderful she was.

I confess I'm also attempting for the first time to successfully embed a video in my post. Other Bloggers I admire practice this technology with flawless frequency. I knew I had to find out how to do it. Hope this works. I'm learning as I go, which is probably painfully obvious. In any case, for those who loved Blossom as much as I did, here's a treat just for you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Mail Bag, Etc.

***** I am always pleased to hear from anyone who wishes to add a comment to one of my posts. If you wish to contact me directly, please visit my web site where you will find a "Contact" button. I received a perfectly lovely bit of mail from a Dublin correspondent to which I replied immediately.

The reason I'm bringing all this up today is that I haven't received return mail from this charming man, and I'm wondering if he may have a Spam Filter in place. This reliable barrier to unwanted/unsolicited material is highly effective, but if one doesn't periodically comb through the good and bad mail, Ms. Sloane may give the highly inaccurate impression that she deliberately ignored the initial correspondence. It is my habit to type "Reply from Carol Sloane" in the subject line to more easily identify it as friendly and decidedly harmless. I welcome any dialogue about my work and questions you may have, and I'm grateful that you take the trouble to write. So, check that Filter!


Week started with a bit of a jolt: I felt some pressure in my chest which persisted for 48 hours even when bombarded with just about every available OTC med. The thorough and reliable WebMd informed me that women seem especially prone to ignore such symptoms, dismissing them as severe and persistent indigestion. Not a good interpretation. So, to come down on the side of caution, I decided to get a proper diagnosis.

Buck jumped out of his deep sleep when, at 3AM, I quietly whispered in his ear: "Why don't we take a little ride to the ER at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital", a mere five miles away. Of course, they kept me overnight for observation, and I underwent a stress test and two sets of image exams. As a result, two new pills are added to my daily intake, and after these few short days on the regimen, I am pain free and feeling top hole. (I've been reading Lord Peter Wimsey stories, forgive me).


Apart from the hospital stay, my brain continues to churn away, spinning song titles and dancing through melodies in anticipation of a new recording project for the Arbors Label. I'd like to be in the studio before year's end. Wish me luck.

Cheers, until next time!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


****** I have no idea what could be wrong, but I am unable to type a title for this post. When I attempt to, here is what pops up: ;ोस्सोम, and that doesn't translate here. It's an ampersand/number sign followed by a series of four numbers. How strange. Leaving a message at Google hasn't brought a single word of help or advice. I'm not even certain this message will publish. But, fingers crossed, here goes:

****** Today's Title was to have been R.I.P.Blossom Dearie. She was a one-of-a-kind personality singer/pianist who was an acquaintance but not a close friend, and she died in her Greenwich Village, New York home on Saturday, February 7th. She was 82 years old. Hers was a voice of exquisite delicacy along with a gentle, confident sense of swing. There are dozens of Blossom Dearie YouTube videos you can take a look at. One of my favorites is her version of "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top" taken at a civilized tempo performed on The Tonight Show hosted by Jack Paar. I suggest you see and hear Blossom for yourself. Enjoy.


Mail this week has brought a delightful surprise message from an old friend I've not seen or heard from in ages who tells me he has been living in Costa Rica for eight years and loves every second of it. I can't wait to learn more about the country and his life-style in the tropical paradise. I also received a post from Max Bennett, the bass player on "Kinda Groovy" which is mentioned in "That Was The Week That Was" below, dated 2/2/2009. I hope some of you have visited the url which I included so that you can hear Jimmy Rowles singing "A Porter's Love Song To A Chambermaid". Otherwise, this has been an exceptionally quiet week, keeping tabs on the discussions and maneuverings of D.C. politicians debating the Stimulus Package, finishing my P.D. James book, and last night and Monday night, watching the delightful parade of canines otherwise known as The Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show which takes place in February each year at Madison Square Garden in NYC. A thoroughly charming Sussex spaniel named Stump captured Best In Show. Quite an achievement for this animal: he came out of retirement to compete, and is 70-years old by human standards. We were especially thrilled about the win since he was our choice too. I know his image closed out many a news broadcast today.

But February's dog show is the highlight of this lengthy, chilly winter season. Football games are no more, the Australian Open's complete, the Red Sox are just starting their spring training sessions in Florida, The Masters Golf Tournament starts in a month, leaving sports viewing in this house focused on the Boston Celtics (Buck and I are not hockey fans) who are managing to defend their Championship status. We are very fond of the team and its coach.

****** Speaking of sports, several wonderful men in my life introduced me to their favorite sport and I in turn became a fan: my Dad (and Mother too, it must be said) gave me baseball; Bob Brookmeyer gave me football; Jimmy Rowles gave me tennis; my husband gave me basketball. The excitement of a basketball game hadn't penetrated my senses even when I lived in North Carolina. I was singing in a beautiful club in Chapel Hill one night when a slight commotion occured at the entrance and right in the middle of me singing a most heartfelt ballad. When I later asked who'd caused the ruckus, they said: "James Worthy came in." "Who's James Worthy?" said I to the incredulous people around me. Hero of the day, star of the team. James Worthy

****** There is a book with the intriguing title "Lark & Termite" by Jayne Anne Phillips, Knopf, sitting on my bedside table, begging me to plunge into its unknown depths, so I will finish for this evening. My hope that my Blog problem can be addressed successfully within the next forty-eight. By the way: What are you currently reading?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

To Listen Or Not To Listen ...

The morning routine never varies: comb hair, shower, brush teeth, kiss husband, pour coffee, read the newspaper, begin sorting the day's demands.

Recently, we experienced a computer melt-down which necessitated a somewhat frantic search for a capable tech whiz. We found Stuart Young working out of his house not more than 2 miles from our home. He diagnosed the situation, walked out with my tower, promising to return as soon as he'd repaired the device. He replaced the hard drive and restored the PC to our eager hands. I mention this because part of my daily routine involves reading various US newspapers as well as The London Times, the Chicago papers, SF and LA papers, Washington Post, most often reading book reviews and sports pages.

There are other web sites equally or often more intriguing, for example: Rich Wilson is a Massachusetts native who is sailing around the globe solo. His daily reports of this spectacular voyage are so totally fascinating to me that I wrote him a little note (lots of school children are monitoring his progress and express their curiosity via email). I asked (naturally) if he had time to listen to music and if so, what? Opera? Bach? Mozart? Gilbert & Sullivan? Selected Debussy? Rodgers and Hart? Coltrane? He responded to the child he assumed me to be, saying he did have some classical music on board, adding (rather vehemently, I thought) that he "never" listens to jazz. I wish the man good luck but I think a little Ben Webster drifting over a calm sea would be heavenly.

While spending my usual hour or so surfing, I never listen to music. It's impossible, and I believe my reason is sound, literally. Let me preface my defense with this brief true story: A brilliant jazz scholar I know named Gary Shivers hosted a Saturday morning jazz program on the NPR affiliate WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill, NC, c. late 1970's. When we met, I was living in neighboring Raleigh, and our paths crossed almost at the moment he assumed his position as station General Manager. His weekly show (which preceded live Metropolitan Opera broadcasts), quickly became the most popular program of its kind, and more importantly, provided starving jazz fans with a format not readily available in an area saturated with Country/Western music. Thousands boasted that they were Gary's most loyal listeners, keenly interested to hear his informed commentary which preceded each recorded performance.

I once asked him why he never played Bill Evans. He said: "On Saturday mornings the mere idea that a washing machine or vacuum cleaner might be in use prevents me from featuring Bill Evans. He deserves to be heard without distraction." Indeed, there were numerous other musicians of introspective persuasion who never got any air time either.

But I think Gary was right. This is my own dilemma: I could not sit here reading a book review or writing this Blog while any of the music I love hovered around and in my space. I would have to cease my labors to marvel at Carmen McRae's incisive phrasing or that astoundingly brilliant Tommy Flanagan improvisational passage. Mine are the ears Gary always hoped to reach on Saturday morning. Which brings me back to my hard drive woes.

After Mr. Young returned this household to full on-line capability, I hastened to make certain my music library was equally in tact. Yes: all the Basie, Charlap, Ella, Mozart, Ellington, Peterson, Webster, Lester and McRae just quietly awaiting my "Play" directive. But I can no longer write. It's time for some tracks from "The Peacocks" featuring Stan Getz and Jimmy Rowles. Seas are calm, winds are favorable, my jib is secure and today's Blog is complete. Ahoy, Mates!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Week That Was

It began with a nasty touch of food poisoning in the early hours of Monday, the 26th, and since this was my first experience with this most unwelcome intrusion, I can say with authority "it ain't fun". However, the rather uncomfortable hours from midnight to 8 AM were made a bit easier because Buck cared enough to forgo his night's sleep tending to my needs. What would I do without him? There is also the astonishing, very reassuring knowledge that a healthy body possesses the means necessary to preserve, protect, defend and eventually dispose of malevolent organisms. Word of advice: do not consume any food which tastes the slightest bit "off".


A friend sent along this absolutely wonderful opportunity to hear Jimmy Rowles singing "A Porter's Love Song To A Chambermaid". The cover of the album is a photograph of the Grand Canyon, and although I have no proof he chose it, the title is pure Rowles: "Kinda Groovy". This album is a rare gem, and I will happily exchange an autographed copy of my "Dearest Duke" for a burned copy of this LP. You heard me: an autographed copy of my "Dearest Duke" in exchange for a burned copy of "Kinda Groovy".

Here is the site: . Personnel include a stellar line-up:

Jimmie Rowles, Piano and Voice
Howard Roberts, Guitar
Max Bennett, Bass
Nick Martinis, Drums
Shelly Manne, Drums on 3 cuts
Recorded in Capitol Records' Studio A
Hollywood, California
October 23, 24, and 26, 1962
Dave Cavanaugh, Producer

John Updike R.I.P.

Upon learning of his death, I went to my bookshelves to take count of the number of Updikes I own. The count is a rather meager sixteen considering the numbers he wrote, but I can boast that they are all first editions. He often sends me scurrying to the dictionary for clarification of a word or words which even in context are indecipherable. It's the same with the dear Baroness James of Holland Park. I usually write down the little speed bump and check its definition at the end of the chapter.

I watched the Charlie Rose show on Jan. 29th to hear a distinguished panel discuss Updike and his work: Judith Jones, Senior Editor and V.P. at Knopf, David Remnick, Editor of The New Yorker magazine, and Sam Tanenhaus, Editor of The New York Times Book Review. The discussion was intellectually stimulating and enlightening since these three and Charlie Rose enjoyed frequent dialogue with Updike. I am eagerly anticipating the Feb. 9/16 combined issue which I believe will feature a very long poem Updike began when he first received the cancer diagnosis, and continuing through the course of treatment. Updike was somewhat obsessed with his own demise, so it will be interesting to read his impressions and perspective and method of dealing with it all. I am truly sorry he encountered the dreaded moment at the comparatively early age of 76.

Favorite Updikes: "Of The Farm", all the Rabbit books, "The Centaur" and of course, his legendary essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu"

In 1999, Ted Williams appeared at Fenway Park in Boston for the All-Star Game and was introduced as one of the top 30 players on baseball's All-Century team. Williams, 80 and in perilous health, was driven on the field at Fenway Park in a golf cart before the game, and he stood up long enough to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

He immediately was surrounded by players from both All-Star teams in an emotional scene near home plate. The game was held up for 14 minutes while the greatest hitter of the past six decades laughed and talked with his admirers, comfortable at last on baseball's center stage. It would prove to be his last baseball-related appearance. And as his golf cart exited the field, he tipped his hat to the crowd several times.

I received a telephone call from Bill Charlap, one of the other men I love, while he was stopping in LA as part of the 51-city Blue Note Seven North American tour. Here is the itinerary: Bill Charlap Tour . At this writing, the group is on hiatus, set to resume on February 17. If the Blue Note Seven are within 100 miles of your location, make every effort to see them. You can't possibly be disappointed.


Hibernation in New England, more snow predicted for tomorrow, with the ever-stronger glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel: 9 days, 18 hours to Pitchers and Catchers at Fort Meyers, Florida, start of Red Sox spring training schedule. Hurray!


For everyone in New York City: My friend Carol Fredette will sing at The Iridium tomorrow night, delighting the audience and promoting her new cd "Everything In Time". Go to hear her and buy her cd. She's marvelous and always has been.