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Barbara Carroll with Mickey Roker and Jay Leonhart at Birdland
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Barbara Carroll with Mickey Roker and Jay Leonhart at Birdland

- Jazz

Jazz and Cabaret Reviews

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

April 30, 2003

Barbara Carroll
with
Mickey Roker and Jay Leonhart
at
Birdland
315 West 44th Street, NYC
212.581.3080
www.birdlandjazz.com
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Andy Kaufman, Business Manager
Tarik Osman, Manager

Barbara Carroll at Leisure
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Many years ago, I heard Barbara Carroll on solo piano, in another venue, Bemelmans Bar, on the East Side. At Birdland, a much larger space, with a full restaurant and large bar, she brought along Mickey Roker on drums and Jay Leonhart on bass. Mr. Leonhart had performed in the Fall Django Reinhardt Festival at Birdland, and is a well-known bassist. I may have the titles of some of these songs slightly incorrect, as they are usually not announced, but just crooned. Ms. Carroll sings in a whispery, romantic style, and, It Might As Well Be Spring is soft and smooth, with brushed drums and an evocative and warm bass. Then, Mr. Leonhart led the theme, with bass and piano backup, followed by Ms. Carroll, with just right-hand playing, mainly on the higher notes, in preparation for Mr. Leonhart's perfect finish. In Look at Him, Ms. Carroll was in full control of a wide range of notes, switching keys mid-word. I could have danced a slow Foxtrot or two-Step to this piece, with the right man. This was the ambiance for dream-makers. Wait Till You See Him was even softer and very effective. A Gershwin melody followed, perhaps entitled, Man of My Heart, with no vocals, just piano.

Ms. Carroll's style is less jazzy than typical jazz or Brazilian-styled piano, such as Van Gierig, and less dissonant and edgy than Toshiko Akiyoshi. It is nurturing and soothing, with Mr. Roker providing the mood and sound of wind chimes or rustling leaves with his seasoned percussion. Some Fun Out of Life, however, was performed in a bouncy, jazzy mood with scat vocals and dynamic backup. For a while, Ms. Carroll let Mr. Roker carry the theme on drums, as they had fun with this Billy Holiday tune. Mood Indigo, on soft, solo piano, cried for another slow Foxtrot. A Cha-Cha inspired piece was next, with Mr. Roker tapping the sides of his drums for clave rhythm, before the trio took it to a jazzier, more progressive level. I'm Just Fooling Myself, for me, a Quickstep, was jazzy, strong, with a piano lead and a well-rehearsed bass and drums. In fact, Mr. Roker and Mr. Leonhart had their gazes transfixed onto Ms. Carroll, throughout this second set.

Body and Soul, mostly on piano, with an occasional bass lead, as Mr. Leonhart changes octaves, mid-theme, and also uses his bow to full effect, was a marvelous interpretation of an old standard. While listening to the final piece, I'm Old Fashioned, which was sung in scat, I imagined Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the filmed backdrop of the New York City Ballet performance to this same song. Barbara Carroll and her Trio frequently appear at Birdland, and you should check the Birdland Website for details. Plan to be transported to a romantic, genteel state of mind.

Barbara Carroll and Friend
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Barbara Carroll and Friend
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Mickey Roker and Jay Leonhart
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Erika
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Ellen and Dave
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Jay Leonhart on Bass
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Barbara Carroll on Piano
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Mickey Roker on Drums
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Tarik Osman and Barbara Carroll
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Photo by Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net