Jazzitalia - Press News: Jazz Treasure Barbara Carroll Celebrates 65 Year New York Love Affair On New Album, "How Long Has This Been Going On?"
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Jazz treasure Barbara Carroll celebrates 65 year New York Love Affair

Barbara Carroll album art



Barbara Carroll
, a jazz treasure of uncompromising artistry continues to embody musical history with the May 10 release of How Long Has This Been Going On? The multi-faceted pianist and singer's latest effort is her second live album in as many years from the famed Dizzy's Club Coca Cola and celebrates a double anniversary, 65 years since her arrival in New York and 50 years since her debut solo recording. Carroll also appears weekly, every Sunday through June 19 in duo with Jay Leonhart at the famed Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel.

It should be taken as a sign of an era long past that when the eminent jazz critic Leonard Feather first encountered Barbara Carroll, he famously described her as "the first girl ever to play bebop piano." Needless to say, the noun employed as the subject of that sentence automatically dates Mr. Feather's statement - at any time in the last few decades, it would be regarded as somewhat disrespectful to describe an accomplished female musician who had already studied at the New England Conservatory of Music, as a "girl." (And that's even though Ms. Carroll was only 22 at the time.)

In 1947, both female instrumentalists and bebop players in general were something of a novelty - regarded with considerable suspicion by older, more conservative male musicians as well as the general public. Yet, Ms. Carroll persevered with both bebop and the piano (later becoming a tasteful vocalist as well), eventually reaching the point where she's become recognized and welcomed in both jazz clubs and cabaret rooms across the world.

It's telling that when Ms. Carroll made her New York debut, it was on 52nd Street, at a time when that legendary boulevard was just peaking as the capitol of the entire jazz world. The venue was the Downbeat Club, and the main event was Dizzy Gillespie, leading what was already celebrated as the first great bebop big band. Ms. Carroll was playing with her trio, alternating sets with Gillespie throughout the night. Despite the fact that many had come to witness the jazz great and his acclaimed big band, this hardly meant that nobody was listening to the immerging talent behind the piano (indeed, Mr. Feather was one of many admirers paying very close attention).

Ms. Carroll remains a vital force in the music scene after 65 years. How fitting that she has earned the most attention in her 80's for a series of albums recorded at the performance space named after her colleague, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (part of Jazz at Lincoln Center's famous Rose Hall).

Her previous album, Something to Live For, recorded at the same club in 2008, primarily concentrated, as the title suggests, on the music of Duke Ellington and Billy. The new album, How Long Has This Been Going On?, is perhaps even more of a pure jazz statement in that it's almost entirely instrumental. A highlight of the earlier record was "Lonely Town" from On The Town, and here she follows with the other most famous ballad from that 1944 show, "Some Other Time." It seems amazing that she hints at the general aura of Bill Evans's iconic arrangement of that Leonard Bernstein classic, yet she doesn't come within a dozen miles of any of Evans's signature licks. She also salutes Evans in a more direct way in "Too Soon," a jazz waltz dedicated to the great pianist; even here, Ms. Carroll honors his memory without resorting to mimicry.

Where Duke and Billy provided the focus for Something to Live For, here most of the attention goes to George and Ira. This five song set-within-a-set also provides most of the major moments for Ms. Carroll's longtime colleague, clarinetist Ken Peplowski. He particularly shines on the two "Rhythm" tunes that begin and end the segment, "Fascinating Rhythm" and "I Got Rhythm." In between, they hit "Nice Work If You Can Get It" (Mr. P goes to town in the bridge), "How Long Has This Been Going On?" (in which Peplowski plays a lovely tenor obligato behind Ms. Carroll's sole vocal of the set) and "My Man's Gone Now," the haunting love song from Porgy and Bess. The closer of this mini-set, "I Got Rhythm," finds Ms. C and Mr. P making musical chop suey out of Gershwin's jam session masterpiece.

The only thing that could follow the famous "Rhythm" chord changes is the blues, and the quartet obliges with a spontaneous blues melody named after Dizzy's majordomo Todd Barkan; Mr. Peplowski plays some pointed descending phrases on clarinet while Ms. Carroll supplies a subtle set of stop time breaks behind him. After the slow blues and the poignant dedication piece, "Too Soon," Ms. Carroll and Mr. Peplowski end with the rousing "Have You Met Miss Jones," a 1937 show tune that came into the world as a ballad, but like a lot of standards, found eternal life as a swinging jazz standard. It's clear that they both find pleasure in fast-moving, high-flying interplay between piano and clarinet.

After 65 years of playing in the big leagues in New York and around the world, Barbara Carroll has hung her hat and made her home in dozens of venues, most of them long since gone with the wind - from the Downbeat to Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle, Birdland and The Oak Room at The Algonquin (where she continues to knock 'em dead on Sunday afternoons) - to name just a few. But the relationship between Ms. Carroll and Dizzy's is a very special one, a fact that's obvious from listening to How Long Has This Been Going On?


May 13 · 4pm
NYU Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series - Barnes & Noble Flagship Store
150 East 86th Street @ Lexington Ave

June 8 · 7:30pm
The Allen Room (Jazz At Lincoln Center)
"Jazz & Popular Song" w/ Michael Feinstein

June 21 - 26 · 7:30pm & 9:30pm
Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (Jazz At Lincoln Center)

Barbara Carroll · How Long Has This Been Going On?
Harbinger Records · Release Date: May 10, 2011

For more information on Barbara Carroll, visit http://www.barbaracarrolljazz.com/
For more information on Harbinger Records, visit http://www.harbingerrecords.com/

For more information, please contact:
DL Media
Don Lucoff, Amy Miller
DL Media | 124 N Highland Ave | Bala Cynwyd | PA | 19004

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