Search Manic Mark's Blog

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Barbara Carroll Trio


I Want A Little Girl

Barbara Carroll Trio
RCA Victor LJM-1001

Liner Notes: History is made at night. It was in the early hours of the morning, long past bedtime fro children, that, a couple of hundred of years ago, an astonished group of grown-ups discovered the infant George Frederick Handel seated at his spinet, pouring forth magnificent music. And it was again in the early hours of the morning, long past what should have been her bedtime, that another astonished group discovered, a couple of years ago, on a side street in the West Fifties of Manhattan, a very young lady named Barbara Carroll, playing a brand of piano that, though undeniably rooted in the jazz tradition, has a style and a sound all its own.

This discovery quickly led to the arrival of Miss Carroll at "The Embers," an East Side New York café noted for the quilty of its spare ribs and its hot music, where she has, quite understandably, been a sort of household pet ever since. Her appearance in these fashionable surroundings led in turn to appearances on radio, on television, and at a great many parties. Hearing her at one of them, Richard Rodgers decided to rewrite a role in his forthcoming musical comedy Me And Juliet, and to ensconce Miss Carroll in the part – as a waling, talking and playing pianist.

The next logical step in Barbara's brisk little history was this, her first RCA Victory album. These are lullabies – lullabies because she plays them mostly to people who regard her music as a nightcap before they take off for home and bed – twelve of her favorite songs, culled largely from the Broadway stage and screen. As perceptive performers should, she has looked upon all forms of musical expression, absorbed what she wished of each, and rephrased it in her own special idiom. Thus there is amole evidence of conservatory training in her incisive touch, her facile fingering, and the subtleties of her pedal work; there are overtones of her forerunning, George Frederick Handel, in her fugal passages in Good Bait; there are implications of carefully regimented bebop in the bright figures that soar out into the wild blue yonder without ever forgetting the theme from which they stem; highly involved, but always recognizable.

Barbara Carroll is a young lady of many moos; anyone who has felt an involuntary tear start at the quiet sorrow of her Goodbye or the lovely, brooding final phrases of her Cabin In The Sky is scarcely prepared for the breakneck pace and sly humor with which she attacks Serenade For A Wealthy Widow and Mountain Greenery, in both of which the jocular interplay of piano, drums and bass tells the story almost as clearly as would the lyrics. Nor do any of these prepare one for the dynamic passages of I Want A Little Girl, Let's Fall In Love or Give Me The Simple Life, in which what stat out as two-finger exercises gradually develop into what sound like twenty-finger crescendos.

There are other distinctive characteristics in Miss Carroll's pianism – the constant varying of mood with a series of crescendos and diminuendos, the use of the left hand not merely as background but as an instrument with a mind of its own, her sudden departure from a straightforward statement of a theme into a brilliantly imaginative paraphrase of it. Rarely, by the way, does she ever play one of these freehand passages twice the same way.

The bass and drum accompaniment are the contributions of, respectively, Joe Shulman and Herb Wasserman, who have long been co-workers with Miss Carroll in a vineyard that promises even more strange and wonderful fruit in the years to come.

As many be easily recognized from the accompanying photographs, Barbara Carroll is as modern in appearance as she is in the way with which she attacks the piano keyboard. Although it cannot be said that she is primarily a visual act – certainly not after the effects of these recordings has sunk in – she is the possessor of a set of mannerisms which more than showcase the sly innuendos of her musical style. Happily ensconced in a semi-dark, happy, smoke-filled atmosphere, surrounded by her two fellow musicians, she moves in perfect feeling to the particular piece she is playing, swaying, bending, flirting with the music and the customers – in effect, adding considerably to the ivory notes which come so deliciously to life under her fingers.

It is undoubtedly true that "noodling" is a word not quite in keeping with the character of modern jazz, yet it is one of the few which may reasonably be assigned to the method which accounts for Barbara' fanciful flights. From a strong, melodic introduction, in which the outlines of the tune are firmly announced, Barbara invariably progresses to a point where her imagination runs away. It cannot be said that she gives it free rein, for there is no question about  its limitless possibilities from the moment she begins to play. But at this one point, she gives herself over completely to "noodling" of the most inventive kind, toying with the tune's melody, and emerging with a logically progressing improvisation which contributes markedly to the tune's coherence and entity.

Lightness of touch, flexibility, versatility – these, too, are inherent in Barbara's style. It does not matter on what she focuses her attention; the mere fact that art is sharply focused on the possibilities of the particular tune in question, guarantees that the tune will be performed with a spontaneity and freshness which could not be possible if played note for note from its original manuscript – it is definitely of the true essence of jazz.

Barbara Carroll is, finally, one of the growing of distaff musicians who have made jazz their own special province. They are especially at home at the piano where their femininity is easily adaptable to the demands of the keyboard. This is true to the greatest extent in modern jazz where a clear, orderly procession of ideas is demanded, and in which the same delicate refinement which makes a woman's touch so light and firm is steadily at work. Here, one finds the direct antithesis of the older heavy-handed tub-thumping jazz tradition – and here one finds Barbara Carroll, in the midst of the excitement and new musical values which she has helped to create.

From Billboard - April 17, 1954: Barbara Carroll gets a chance to show off a lot of her slick piano work on this new LP release. Miss Carroll plays in what would have to be called a commercial jazz idiom. That is, it is jazz-based, and yet it is the type of piano work that even squares can get the hang of and enjoy with little trouble. Usually she is to be heard at the Embers in New York, playing melodies for people who stay up late. Sometimes her style is brisk; at other times it is lushly sentimental. Little doubt that a lot of people will find this set a good one for parties or to enjoy at home when alone late at night. The liner notes are extravagant but the package is exceptional, with an extra leaf containing pictures and copy.

Serenade For A Wealthy Widow
From This Moment On
I Want A Little Girl
What's The Use Of Won'rin'
Good Bait
Let's Fall In Love
Lullaby Of Broadway
Folks Who Live On The Hill
Give Me The Simple Life
Cabin In The Sky
Mountain Greenery

No comments:

Post a Comment

Howdy! Thanks for leaving your thoughts!