MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, “MOONGLOW”
Welcome to Afterglow, [a show of vocal jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook], I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
This week, we’re paying tribute to jazz singer and song stylist Carol Sloane, who passed away in January of this year. Sloane was one of the last surviving singers from that golden age of the American Songbook in the mid 20th century. After recording a few albums for Columbia in the 1960s, Sloane remained out of the spotlight for several decades, before emerging as a mature and celebrated song interpreter in the 1980s. This hour, I’ll chronicle her career, from her early days to her late-career Renaissance, highlighting some notable recordings along the way.
It’s The Song Styling of Carol Sloane, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “MY FOOLISH HEART”
Jazz singer Carol Sloane in 1982 with the Victor Young and Ned Washington tune “My Foolish Heart.” That comes from her album As Time Goes By, recorded and released in Japan, and featuring Yukinori Narishige on bass.
MUSIC CLIP - GENE AMMONS, “MY FOOLISH HEART”
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this show, we’re paying tribute to jazz singer and song stylist Carol Sloane, who passed away on January 23, 2023 at age 85.
Carol Sloane, born Carol Morvan in 1937, was tempted by the allure of jazz when she was a young girl growing up in Rhode Island. She started singing in local big bands, and when she was still a teenager, landed in New York to pursue a career as a jazz singer full time. She recorded a handful of miscellaneous tracks in the 1950s, but eventually earned her big break through a series of successful live gigs.
The first came around 1960 when she substituted for Annie Ross in the trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (learning their entire catalog in about one night). The next came in 1961, when she finally had her first major solo gig in New York, opening for Oscar Peterson at the Village Vanguard. The final notable success also came in 1961, when she made a celebrated appearance as an emerging artist at the Newport Jazz Festival. It was so successful, in fact, that it led directly to a recording contract at Columbia Records.
Sloane’s first album for Columbia, called Out Of The Blue, was an impressive debut. The arrangements were by Bill Finegan and Bob Brookmeyer, featuring Brookmeyer on trombone. Let’s hear a few tracks from that debut now. First up, this is Carol Sloane with Duke Ellington’s “Prelude To A Kiss,” on Afterglow
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “PRELUDE TO A KISS”
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU’RE YOU”
Carol Sloane off of her 1962 debut album called Out Of The Blue. That was the Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke tune “Aren’t You Glad You’re You,” before that, Duke Ellington’s “Prelude To A Kiss.”
Carol Sloane’s next album for Columbia came later that year. To capture the essence of her acclaimed live sets, the label decided on making a live album. But rather than recording it at a venue, this album was recorded live in Columbia’s expansive 30th street studio in New York, in front of an invited audience of about 200 guests. Bill Rubenstein was the pianist for the session along with noted guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. A young Peter Bogdonavich, then just a journalist and not yet a film director, was present and ended up writing the album’s liner notes.
Let’s hear a few tracks from that live album now. Here is Carol Sloane with Gershwin’s “Love Walked In,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “LOVE WALKED IN”
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “MY MELANCHOLY BABY”
Carol Slone, live at Columbia’s 30th Street studios with “My Melancholy Baby” and “Love Walked In.” That comes from her 1962 album Live At 30th Street.
MUSIC CLIP - SIR ROLAND HANNA, “IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD”
Things were looking up for Carol Sloane in the early 1960s. The 25-year-old had just recorded two albums for Columbia Records, she was making appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and she was a steady presence at some of New York’s finest jazz clubs, often with big names like Ben Webster. But this was not a good time to be a jazz singer, especially one signed to Columbia. For one, the Beatles and the British Invasion completely were about to completely transform the landscape of American Popular music, pushing jazz singers and the American songbook off to the margins. Moreover, Columbia had just signed a promising young nightclub singer and actress named Barbra Streisand. So most of the label’s promotional efforts went towards her instead.
By the mid 1960s, Carol Sloane was without a label, and soon had to take a job as a secretary to make ends meet. By the end of the decade, she moved out of New York, settling down in North Carolina. For fifteen years, Carol Sloane was completely off the radar.
She began to perform live again locally in North Carolina at a jazz club called The Frog, which revived her love of performing. By the end of the 1970s, she was ready to record again. However, the recording opportunities were not in North Carolina nor in New York… rather they were in Japan. The Japanese market had developed a strong appreciation for the vocal jazz that the American market had left behind in the mid 1960s. As a result, Carol Sloane was one of many jazz artists who recorded albums in Tokyo or specifically for those Japanese fans.
Let’s hear two tracks from those Japanese Records now. This first one comes from her 1977 album of all Duke Ellington tunes titled Sophisticated Lady. This is Carol Sloane with “Satin Doll,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “SATIN DOLL”
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU”
Carol Sloane in two recordings made in Japan. Just now, we heard her in 1982 with the Harry Warren and Al Dubin song “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and featured on the album As Time Goes By. Before that, in 1977 with “Satin Doll” from the album Sophisticated Lady, featured George Mraz on bass and Sir Roland Hanna on piano.
MUSIC CLIP - SIR ROLAND HANNA, “LOVE WALKED IN”
We’ll have more from jazz singer Carol Sloane in just a bit, stay with us.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - JIMMY ROWLES, “LOOKING BACK”
MUSIC CLIP - JIMMY ROWLES, “EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE”
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been exploring the life and career of jazz singer Carol Sloane this hour, who passed away in January at age 85.
By the 1980s, Carol Sloane was in the midst of a late career revival. After a fifteen-year recording drought, she had begun to make new albums for the Japanese market, which showcased her now matured voice in a style that was reminiscent at times of Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, and Ella Fitzgerald. Around this time, she also began booking more gigs in New York City again, after spending years in North Carolina. And she developed a musical and personal relationship with pianist Jimmy Rowles.
Musically, Sloane and Rowles were perfectly in sync. In a 2009 interview with Marc Myers’ JazzWax blog, Carol Sloane said of Rowles, quote, “He knew exactly when not to play. He knew how much a singer needed and how much she didn’t need. Once he heard me, he knew instinctively that I didn’t need a lot of support. I knew where the song was going to go. Even if he didn’t play a note I was going to be OK.”
As personal partners, however, things weren’t so rosy. Rowles was an alcoholic, and Sloane said in that same interview that at one point during that fraught relationship, she tried to take her own life. The relationship lasted three years, and during that time they recorded one album together. Let’s hear a track from it now.
Here is Carol Sloane with pianist Jimmy Rowles in 1978 with Irving Berlin’s “Cheek To Cheek,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “CHEEK TO CHEEK”
Carol Sloane and pianist Jimmy Rowles in 1978 with “Cheek To Cheek,” a track off of Sloane’s album called Carol Sings.
By the end of the 1980s, Carol Sloane had made a move to a record label called Contemporary Records. She was now in her 50s, but according to many, she was just hitting her stride as a singer. Jazz critic Will Friedwald calls this period her best work to date. And critic Nat Hentoff at the time said that, quote, “She is one of the very few singers who can make conversation stop in a club. She has presence… she gets inside you.”
Let’s hear a track now from her 1988 album titled Love You Madly, an album where she began to expand her repertoire beyond the usual jazz standards. This is Carol Sloane with her intimate version of the Lennon/McCartney song “Norwegian Wood,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “NORWEGIAN WOOD”
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “JUST A-SITTIN’ AND A-ROCKIN’”
Carol Sloane with Duke Ellington’s “Just A Sittin’ and A Rockin’.” That comes from her 1990 album The Real Thing, featuring Mike Renzi on piano, Grady Tate on drums, and Phil Woods on clarinet. Before that, Sloane with the Beatles’ song “Norwegian Wood,” from her 1988 album Love You Madly, featuring Richard Rodney Bennett on piano. Sloane considered this to be her favorite album.
For much of the 1990s, Carol Sloane recorded for the Concord Jazz label, releasing a string of consistently high-quality albums, which all showed off her skills as a song interpreter. She recorded six albums in all for Concord, including tribute albums to some of her influences, like Carmen McRae, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
I’ll play for you now a few songs from these Concord years, all off the beaten path. First up, here is the title track from her 1992 album for Concord. This is Carol Sloane with the Dave Frishberg and Alan Broadbent tune “Heart’s Desire,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “HEART’S DESIRE”
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “A WOMAN’S INTUITION”
Carol Sloane with the Ned Washington and Victor Young song “A Woman’s Intuition.” That comes from her 1993 album for Concord Records called Sweet and Slow. Before that, we heard her with the Dave Frishberg and Alan Broadbent song “Heart’s Desire,” from the 1992 Concord album of the same name.
Carol Sloane continued to work well into the 21st century. As her voice aged, her musicianship remained consistently strong. Sloane’s strengths as a singer were always her subtle sense of swing, her ability to get inside the lyric, and her restraint—qualities that served her quite well in her later years. Sadly, she suffered a stroke in 2021 and passed away at age 85 on January 23, 2023.
To close off this hour, I’ll play a track from what ended up being her final album, released, just last year, in 2022. It was a live performance, recorded in New York’s Birdland club in September 2019, featuring her longtime pal Mike Renzi on piano. This is Carol Sloane with “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - CAROL SLOANE, “WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS”
The final recording of jazz singer Carol Sloane. That was her live in 2019 with “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,” from the
Thanks for tuning in to this edition of Afterglow.
MUSIC CLIP - JIMMY ROWLES AND RAY BROWN, “SOPHISTICATED LADY”
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. The executive producer is John Bailey.
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, and join me next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook, here on Afterglow