When musically attuned people think of Manhattan's swank Carlyle Hotel, the image that comes to mind is usually that of debonair Bobby Short holding forth and holding court at the piano in the Café. Far too few venture across the hall to Bemelman's Bar to nurse a drink and lend an ear to resident chanteuse-pianist Carroll, whose keyboard elegance and harmonic style recall Bill Evans's and Marian McPartland's.
On Live at the Carlyle (recorded, confoundingly, in the Café), a mixture of standards and lovely obscurities like Billy Stray horn's jazz waltz "Lotus Blossom," Carroll swings her way through the usually pensive "But Not for Me," offers up an almost stately "I'm Old Fashioned" and a buoyant minor key "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," all with wonderful support from sidemen Jay Leonhart, Claudio Roditi and Akira Tana.
When she sings—or, more accurately, talk-sings—four of the 11 cuts, Carroll pours just the right measure of world weariness into "A Moment of Madness," wistfulness into "Glad to Be Unhappy." Indeed, Carroll does more with her admittedly limited range than more technically gifted singers can do with octaves at their disposal. (Cabaret/DRG)