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Sunday, July 3, 2022

It's A Wonderful World - Barbara Carroll Trio


Spring Is Here

It's A Wonderful World
Barbara Carroll Trio
Cover: Miss Carroll's fur by Milton Herman / Photo by Wendy Hilty
RCA Victor LPM-1369

From the back cover: "The greatest assistance the average young lady musician can render to others is to stop," George Bernard Shaw wrote when he was a London music critic, and this cheerful opinion survives to this day in the firm believe that there are still two things women can't do – play football and play piano. We all know that it's true what they say about lady football players, but I think we're likely to get over out doubts about lady piano players the first time we hear Barbara Carroll. I remember that I got cured the night I walked into a small place on the West Side of Manhattan called Georgie Auld's after the jazz musician who seemed to run the room, and found her bent over a piano. She was bent over because the ceiling was so low that if she had sat up straight she would have knocked her pretty brains out on it, and you had to get close to her because everyone was talking at once. That was some years ago, when she was even younger than she is now – a very neat trick, when you stop to think about it. Today, people stop talking when she starts to play.

Jazz is a man's world, but Barbara Carroll gets along very well in it. In every group she's ever worked in, she has always been the only girl, and now that she has a trio of her own, she's still the only girl; her bassist is Joe Shulman, who has been with her for quite some time, and her drummer is Albert Monroe, a much more recent arrival, but a boy who will probably be around her from now on. One way of complimenting a girl musician is to tell her that she plays like a man. Barbara Carroll, though, sounds like a concert pianist playing like Barbara Carroll. You have only to note the crispness of each note, the simplicity of the fingering and the deftness of the pedal work to know that there is a conservatory of music in her background. But it's her understanding of the dynamics of her instrument that gives her piano those special Carroll touches, and her variations on the themes she chooses have such an individuality that you could never mistake her for anyone else. It's a very modern piano, often full of relentless drive and almost completely abstract figures, but is is never so wrapped up in its work that there isn't room in it for an occasional interlude of airy humor, for a hint that life, love and the pursuit of happiness are important themes, too.

A lot of people like to tie tags onto everything – music to dream to, music to sleep to, music to yawn to. If the sound that Barbara Carroll makes has to have a label, I think it should be "music to live to." Like life itself, it has a constant interplay of rhythmic and ad-lib tempos, of crescendo and diminuendo, of tremendous crashing chords and lacy intervals in which the whole structure of her music is expressed by a succession of single notes in the right hand. And what se created does not ever depend on the endless repetition, with or without variations, of a certain form; when she has finished exploring to her satisfaction her first idea, she puts it aside for the evening to develop her next one. It is the realization that practically never can you anticipate what her next move will be that makes her one of the most fascinating performers now in the public eye. – Rogers Whitaker, The New Yorker Magazine

It's A Wonderful World
Spring Is Here
At Long Last Love
Struttin' With Some Barbecue 
Fancy Pants
The Girl Friend
It Never Entered My Mind
One Life To Live
No Moon At All
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World

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