Sounds

Betty Carter’s 25-minute extravaganza “Sounds” is possibly the jazz vocal apogee. Sarah Vaughan is more inventive and harmonically sophisticated, Ella is more agile, Billie Holiday is more soulful, but nobody is more adventurous or swinging than Betty Carter. The sustained energy of this piece is incredible. I don’t know how she manages not to keel over from exhaustion halfway through. This is what it means not to be wed to Irving Berlin songs.

And just for fun, at the very opposite end of the spectrum, Carter’s charming, Doris Day-esque duet with Ray Charles on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”:

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David Ross

Dr. David A. Ross is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is senior lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of A Critical Companion to William Butler Yeats (2009) and the co-editor/co-translator of The Search for the Avant-Garde, 1946­–1969 (2012), the descriptive catalogue of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. He edits the Southeast Review of Asian Studies and has served as president of the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies. His enthusiasms include high modernism, modal jazz, Chinese ink-brush painting, and really well-made pizza.

One thought on “Sounds”

  1. What fun, to listen to Betty Carter on a cold wintry night. I especially enjoyed her duet with Ray Charles! The forecast calls for 6 degrees F here tonight, so this song is perfect.

    Thanks for all your great writings!

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