Carline Ray may be dropping her debut release at the tender age of 88 years young but she is far from a newbie when it comes to American women in jazz. The mother of acclaimed singer Catherine Russell, Ray has performed with such luminaries as Mercer Ellington and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Catherine Ray's formal training make her far from the old school "one note" vocalist and have her as comfortable scatting as offering up a heartfelt ballad.
Vocal Sides is a wondrous showcase of what a great American artist is all about. Included in this wide ranging collection of jazz standards and gospel infused tunes penned by the legendary Mary Lou Williams. "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" and "Somewhere" are straight from the Great American Songbook and delivered with a warmth and sophistication that is more of an innate gift then something one learns at Berklee or any of the other notable jazz factors you will find on the east coast. "Donna Lee / Back Home Again In Indiana" from the iconic discography from the great Charlie Parker are rolled out with a flair and panache that most singers half her age have worked an entire career for and still fall short of the mark. Daughter Catherine Russell joins Ray on "Land Beyond The River" and "Hold On" which is a joint arrangement that works incredibly well in this format.
I will allow you to determine the difference between a singer and a vocal artist. Suffice it to say that the ability to connect with the audience coupled with an emphasis on substance while allowing style to take care of itself goes along way in making a vocal artist such as Carline Ray a true artistic treasure by every possible standard of measure!
Tracks: When I Grow Too Old To Dream; Donna Lee / Back Home Again In Indiana; Somewhere; Lazarus; Our Father; Land Beyond The River; Come Sunday; Hold On; A Child Is Born; Without A Song; Bonus Track: Lucille.
Personnel: Carline Ray: vocals; Catherine Russell: vocals (6,8); Yuka Aikawa: piano (1,2,3,5,10); Mark Shane: piano (6); Atsundo Aikawa: bass (1,2,3,5,10); Greg Skaff: guitar (4,7,9); Mark McLean: drums (1,2,10); Akua Dixon: cello (7,9); Frank Anderson: organ (11).