“Carmen McRae – Live” is an 81-minute DVD released under the Image Entertainment label. It is footage of a 1986 concert performance by the singer in Tokyo. Here, Ms. McRae (1920-1994) was supported by a trio of fine musicians on piano, bass and drums, in a concert of nearly 24 songs. These tunes included “Yesterdays,” “No More Blues,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Listen Here,” and many others.
Her singing career began when she was 17-years old. This concert DVD demonstrated her superb sound and professional longevity that was notable at approximately age 66. She supposedly continued performing until 1991!
As a fine pianist in her own right, Ms. McRae accompanied herself on a couple of songs. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time I’d seen or heard her and I was impressed by her Jazz stylings and superlative “storytelling” abilities, as well as her use of her voice, from a purely “musical” standpoint. Of course, I’d like to hear earlier recordings of her, but she seems to have held up pretty well.
I wasn’t familiar with her three backup musicians consisting of pianist Pat Coil, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Mark Pulice, but I was very impressed by their playing, which provided perfect and sensitive accompaniment to Ms. McRae.
The sound quality of this disc was quite acceptable, if not ideal. It’s a good document of one of the Jazz greats, in the twilight of her career.