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Carla White: A Voice in the Night

Carla White’s presence looms heavily in her most recent recording (it doesn’t sound right saying “latest” since the CD was recorded and completed in 2001). She produced it, arranged it, took care of the art and wrote the liner notes-as well as the words and music of a haunting number called “Peace of Mind.”

Nonetheless, White has four outstanding cohorts: trumpeter Claudio Roditi, guitarist John Hart, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Matt Wilson. The lady knows what she wants, and guitar gives her more freedom and less density than a piano. The resulting sound gives off an airy, swinging mood, particularly on “Time on My Hands,” Wes Montgomery’s “Four on Six” and “You and the Night and the Music,” sung in Spanish and English. Her very distinctive scat graces “Four on Six.”

White is very persuasive on up tunes (she studied with Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh). But her strong suit is the ballad: Ellington’s “It’s Kind of Lonesome Out Tonight,” the sultry “Sweet and Slow,” “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” and, most eloquently, her original, “Peace of Mind.”

She deserves credit for resuscitating neglected gems, particularly “Lonesome Out Tonight,” “May I Come In?” and “I’ll Never Pass This Way Again.”

Originally Published