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Kay Starr: Live at Freddy’s 1986

Live at Freddy’s 1986 finds Starr performing in a jazz context, backed by a quartet featuring pianist Frankie Ortega, guitarist John Basile, bassist John Goldsby and drummer Ron Zito. Her repertoire ranges from Dixieland classics (“You Gotta See Mama Every Night,” “Hard-Hearted Hannah”), to saloon songs (“You’ve Changed”), to then-contemporary compositions by Neil Sedaka and Kris Kristofferson, to a medley of her pop hits. Starr’s undiminished ability to swing and her good-natured, self-deprecating between-tune patter spark the CD. However her voice, as captured on May 22 and 23 at Manhattan’s now-shuttered Freddy’s Supper Club, is distractingly ragged, often hoarse. (Starr’s chops were still strong in 1986, so she must have been struggling with a sore throat.) This live album demonstrates Starr’s prowess as a spunky, compelling entertainer but, because of vocal problems, falls far short of her most memorable recordings.

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