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The title sounds a bit ambitious, but the album's actually a great intimate date from Carmen McRae – a beautifully-recorded small combo performance – caught live at Donte's in LA, with a sound that hearkens back to some of Carmen's best work of the 50s! The format is spare and simple – backing by a quartet that features Joe Pass on guitar, Jimmy Rowles on piano, Chuck Domanico on bass, and Chuck Flores on drums – all grooving with a light and lively touch behind Carmen's wonderful vocals – served up here with a lot more freedom than she was getting on most of her studio dates from the time. The "great American songbook" is really just a catch-all for a very wide variety of work included on the record – and the album's hardly the staid "songbook" sort of album you'd guess from the title. Instead, Carmen really opens herself up to a lot of great tunes, from classic to contemporary – with titles that include "Three Little Words", "Glad To Be Unhappy", "The Ballad Of Thelonious Monk", "Behind The Face", "Sunday", "Day By Day", "If The Moon Turns Green", "At Long Last Love", and "A Song For You". © 1996-2016, Dusty Groove, Inc.
If something is noteworthy, we try to note it in the comments — especially if it is an oddity that is the only wrong thing about the record. This might include, but isn't limited to, warped records, tracks that skip, cover damage or wear as noted above, or strictly cosmetic flaws.