Picks and Pans Review: I'm Coming Home Again

updated 04/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

Carmen McRae

Before his death in 1975, critic Ralph J. Gleason declared Carmen McRae "the greatest woman singer of jazz in our time." McRae, 58, has never equaled the popularity of contemporaries Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Peggy Lee, but this double album of moody ballads suggests that Gleason had a point. McRae's elegance, timing and deep, wonderfully elastic voice are complemented by sit-in virtuosos like Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Jorge Dalto, Grover Washington Jr. and, in a remarkable performance over all four sides, bassist Buster Williams. The material includes a sublime version of the old The Masquerade Is Over plus many new tunes. McRae imaginatively covers Paul Williams and Roger Nichols' I Won't Last a Day Without You, Al Jarreau's Burst In with the Dawn, the Carole Bayer Sager-Melissa Manchester standard-to-be Come In from the Rain and Billy Joel's New York State of Mind. This is an ideal midnight curl-up album and the culmination of McRae's four decades as a professional.

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