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Sammy Davis Jr., Carmen McRae – Porgy And Bess (2012 FLAC)

Sammy Davis Jr., Carmen McRae - Porgy And Bess (2012 FLAC)

Sammy Davis Jr., Carmen McRae – Porgy And Bess (2012 FLAC)

Artist: Sammy Davis Jr., Carmen McRae
Album: Porgy And Bess
Release/Reissue: 2012
Genre: Vocal Jazz

01. Summertime
02. A Woman Is A Sometime Thing
03. My Man’s Gone Now
04. I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’
05. Bess, You Is My Woman
06. It Ain’t Necessarily So
07. I Loves You Porgy
08. There’s A Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon For New York
09. Oh Bess, Where’s My Bess
10. Oh Lawd, I’m On My Way

In 1959 Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae tried their hand at a recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The record presents a bit of a challenge to fans of Davis and McRae’s previous efforts, as the record is piled to the sky with strings, harps, choruses, and pillowy orchestration. On “Summertime” Carmen is nearly drowned out by the orchestra and Sammy has to beat back the orchestra and vocal chorus on too many occasions. He’s usually up for it, though; his voice has a magnificent power that might surprise people who know him as just a wisecracking hipster. Listen to him tackle “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” or dazzle his way through “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York”; it’s the sound of a man holding nothing back. Carmen shines too on a dramatic “My Man’s Gone Now” that shows what a great interpreter she was and the pair’s one duet on the record, “I Loves You Porgy,” manages to be sweet despite the overbearing strings. The best tracks on the record are Sammy’s romp through “A Woman Is a Sometime Thing” and his storming “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’,” tracks that have some energy and jazz pulsing behind the stifling strings and choruses. Call the record an admirable effort or a qualified success, but it never really succeeds as an enjoyable listening experience, because the arrangements are just too proper and academic. They serve to bury the emotion behind the words and weaken the power of the melodies. Credit Sammy and Carmen for holding up their end of the deal. You just have to wonder how much better the record could have been if the arrangements were looser, if there were some swing involved.

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