Picks and Pans Review: At the Piano

updated 02/01/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/01/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Barbara Carroll

Dorothy Donegan first spun into the limelight in 1942, when TIME marveled at her "ten amazing fingers." At the time the Chicago-bred pianist was playing classics like Schubert's Serenade with real polish and then swinging the bejeepers out of them. After 40 years her fingers are as prestidigitous as ever. Donegan's wild, almost spastic physical exuberance at the keyboard has, unfortunately, often relegated her to the status of cocktail lounge curiosity. But underneath the antics the musician in her nearly always pours through—as it does here. Soul-shaking blues, boogie-woogie high jinks, Art Tatumesque runs—Donegan stirs them all into a volatile brew which, in showstoppers like The Lady Is a Tramp and The Man I Love, she detonates with double-fisted chords. The title of this, her first album since a European release several years ago, is no overstatement.

If Donegan is a lusty big-scale artist among jazz pianists, Barbara Carroll is a pointillist and a watercolor heartbreaker. She, too, seems no worse for the wear of three decades of trampling out the jazz vintage in semiobscurity. Her touchstones seem to be Bud Powell, Bill Evans and Tatum—and on every cut of her solo disc she proves herself worthy of mention in the same breath with them. Her rendition of Soon It's Gonna Rain, from The Fantasticks, steps out with cockiness, jauntily ascends a complex, circular stairway of chords, doubles reflectively back on itself, swings into gear again, light-steps through some tulip-pretty changes, spins and sparkles and then swoons to a close in a splash of rainy color. Carroll makes every song a wondrous journey.

From Our Partners