March 5: Cake and Candles for Carol Sloane Today
Jazz singer extraordinaire Carol Sloane was born in Providence, RI, on March 5, 1937, and even though she was born in the Ocean State, she’s lived in the Boston area for over 25 years. She’s worked all the best places in town, from Paul’s Mall and the Jazz Workshop in the ‘60s, to the Regattabar and Scullers in the ‘00s. She’s worked with Boston’s best accompanists (Dave McKenna, Ray Santisi, James Williams). And she’s been a DJ, filling in for Ron Della Chiesa when “Music America” was in its heyday on WGBH-FM.
Sloane started her professional career at about age 15, singing with Ed Drew’s dance band in Providence. Then she sang with the big band of Les and Larry Elgart. She arrived in the jazz world with a bang in 1961, with a stunning debut at Newport, and opening for Oscar Peterson at the Village Vanguard. She was the subject of a Down Beat feature story. Sloane was back at Newport, with Coleman Hawkins, in 1962, and she subbed for Annie Ross with Lambert and Hendricks for a few weeks.
Carol Sloane’s been at it for a long time, sometimes having to work as a legal secretary by day and singing by night. She’s become a favorite of the connoisseurs of fine singing if not the general public. She’s made dozens of recordings over the years on respected labels, among them Contemporary, Concord, HighNote, and most recently, Arbors. She owes much to Carmen McRae and isn’t shy about telling you so.
On the bandstand, Sloane exudes warmth and sings with restraint. She makes singing seem so effortless—does she ever have trouble reaching a note?—but no one concentrates more on delivering a lyric. Her phrasing is unmatched.
To the music. Here she is with “But Not for Me” from her 1987 album of the same name. That’s Tommy Flanagan on the piano.
There’s such a sense of intimacy about her music. Here’s Carol singing “My Foolish Heart,” from her album Love You Madly. She’s always with the best accompanists; this time it’s Kenny Barron.
So thank you for your music, Carol Sloane, and have a happy birthday.