- Ray Charles and Betty Carter: “Cocktails for Two” (Ray Charles and Betty Carter, ABC, 1961)
A cheat? Perhaps—“Cocktails for Two” isn’t really about alcohol. Still, the idea of cocktails as a social lubricant is no small part of this song (however delicate); the protagonists’ “plan,” after all, began with them. There’s also a certain musical association in this performance with the warm, friendly sensation of an aperitif that’s consumed in just the right atmosphere. In this case, the atmosphere is the subtle, exquisite piano line from Brother Ray and the gauze of Marty Paich’s orchestra and choir. Charles sings in an unusually high, soft register that is in its own way disorienting. Come the bridge, Carter’s head is reeling, and her careful pause between “intoxicating” and “kisses” surely isn’t accidental.
Listen to a Spotify playlist featuring most of the songs in this JazzTimes 10:Originally Published