Carole J. Bufford: All By Myself

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Carole J. Bufford

All By Myself

October 17, 2018

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

This is one of those CDs that conjures up its vocalist. Carole J. Bufford’s attitudes are easy to visualize. We know when her hips bump, when she whips her head around with a blazing dare, when eyelids are lowered or an emphasizing arm rises as if of its own volition. The artist’s preference for and skill with classic songbook, blues, and even country songs is here paired with highly original takes on a couple of Lennon and McCartney numbers. Musicianship is fresh, textured, supportive, superb.

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A deft, juke joint rendition of Irving Berlin’s “All By Myself” is followed by “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (Al Dubin/Harry Warren), a dancing extravagant tango.

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Next, to soothe, Bufford and band decant “Fade Into You” (Trevor Rosen/Shane McNally/ Matt Jenkins).  “I wanna melt in I wanna soak through/I only wanna move when you move/I wanna breathe out when you/ Breathe in then I wanna fade into you.

” The song exhales lovely and haunting. Bufford sings lushly.

Hip swingin’, hard beat numbers include “Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash/Gordon Jenkins) with the lyric “just to—watch him die” swung like a hammock, accompanied by Charlie Caranicas’ pugnacious horn; and George Brooks’ sassy “Send Me to the ’Lectric Chair” as declared to the sentencing judge by an unrepentant broad. Bufford musically appreciates both gutsy women and sin.

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She’s gleeful. Tom Hubbard’s bass is super.

Beautifully spare, “All of Me” (Gerald Marks/Seymour Simons) emerges from a smoky back room at 3 am. Accomplished piano and bass tiptoe; the vocal flows like molasses. “Cry-i-i-…” Bufford sings from the gut, distinct in its unembellished truth. Also authentic, “After You’ve Gone” (Henry Creamer/Turner Layton)—again, with a great horn—is more sultry and threatening here than in its usual over-produced tirade.

Randy Newman’ s “Guilty” is a foot-dragging, frowsy blues sung from somewhere down there.

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Bufford manifests desolation with attitude. Perhaps there’s a back-story. “I Love the Way You’re Breaking My Heart” (Louis Alter/Milton Drake) floats in lighter from the get-go.

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Riding a rhythmic bass, she teases. The words “feel” and “less” linger.

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“Why Haven’t I Heard from You?” sashays to head-bobbing, foot-tapping, honky-tonk piano.

Her vocal slip/slides with skill and style.

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“Now darlin’, honey, what is your excuse?” purrs with sarcasm.

Of the two John Lennon and Paul McCartney tracks, both unique, I favor “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

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” Imagine the familiar number with bowed bass and harpsichord-like piano. Innocent lyrics radiate. What’s usually noisy exuberance is here a quiet love song. It works, in spades. “Oh! Darling” (McCartney)  is ’50s swing, a prom number, easy and affecting.

It’s undoubtedly as the Beatles first played it when they were teenagers.

Arrangements are by Bufford and pianist Ian Herman.

Carole J. Bufford’s first CD lands as a great sample or evocative memory. There’s enough here to play often.

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Bob Meyer

    Are those drums I hear on the CD? Drums surperbly played by Howie Gorden, one of New York’s very best eclectic drummers? All the musicians in the band deserve mention and credit. Without them, there is no CD. The reviewer did a sloppy and unprofessional job.

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