I've got another music break for you. This one spotlights two ladies -- the great jazz vocalist, Carmen McRae and the singing funny lady, Martha Raye. This may seem like an odd couple, but I shall explain.
I loved Sunday afternoons when I was a kid. Sunday was music day in our house. We'd spin albums on the hi-fi. Mom and Dad played a lot of their jazz LPs and, in doing so, introduced me to many jazz greats. Carmen McRae was one of them. Here are two cuts from McRae albums that made my ears very, very happy during my South Central L.A. youth. First up, Carmen sings "I'm Always Drunk In San Francisco."
Another one of my Carmen McRae favorites is a song with music by Oscar Levant and lyrics by Edward Heyman. The song is "Blame It On My Youth."
Also on Sundays, Mom and Dad would listen to the live local afternoon radio show hosted by esteemed jazz musician and journalist, Leonard Feather. He'd do fabulous interviews of jazz artists. Many would perform on the show. One day, Carmen McRae was a guest. Joining her was one of her best friends in the world, the sensational Sarah Vaughan. In a delightful chat, Feather asked them to name a few of their favorite vocalists. Carmen said she'd mention a name that might get laughs from listeners but Sarah would agree with her. Sarah enthusiastically did agree. The name -- Martha Raye. This was the 1960s. I did laugh when I heard the name. Mom, smiling, said to me "Don't laugh. When I was a girl, I wore out my record of Martha Raye singing 'Gone With The Wind.' I had to buy a new one." I knew Martha Raye solely as the funny lady with the big mouth who did a lot of TV appearances.
Here's Martha Raye doing a delicious rendition of "That Old Black Magic."\