Personnel: Andr‚ Previn .
DRG's The Magic of Diahann Carroll is a two-fer CD reissue of the two Carroll LPs that United Artists Records released in 1960, the studio set Diahann Carroll and Andr‚ Previn (UAS-6069) and the live album Diahann Carroll at the Persian Room (UAS-6080). Despite being only 24-years-old when these albums were made, Carroll was a show business veteran who had launched her nightclub career in her teens after winning first place on the TV talent show Chance of a Lifetime, then appeared on Broadway (House of Flowers) and on-screen (Carmen Jones) before turning 20. Her stint on United Artists (which had already included an LP of songs from Porgy and Bess, reflecting her appearance in the 1959 film version, also featuring Previn) followed one on RCA Victor (Sings Harold Arlen Songs , Best Beat Forward ) and preceded one on Atlantic (Fun Life ) before she returned to Broadway for a Tony-winning turn in No Strings (1962), did more recording for Disque D'Or ('A' You're Adorable ) and Columbia (Nobody Sees Me Cry ), and, of course, became a sitcom star (Julia [1968-71]). The Previn album, which features bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Frank Capp, is full of standards and show tunes by the likes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Richard Rodgers that Carroll handles effectively, leaving room for the rhythm section, particularly Previn on the piano, to solo frequently. It's a low-key, torchy set for the most part, with occasional up-tempo moments, notably "I Should Care." This is in contrast to the live material that follows, recorded at New York's Plaza Hotel on February 4, 1960. Here, Carroll fronts a big band in a varied set, again leaning on standards, and she willingly evokes such predecessors as Ethel Waters and Lena Horne by borrowing their signature songs. You can hear their influence on her, but she often takes a softer approach and brings an actress' training to her interpretations, even to the point of creating a character and telling that character's story as a long introduction to "I Wish I Were in Love Again." Carroll achieved such fame later in her career on TV that it's easy to forget her early successes in other media. This collection helps bring the diversity of her talents into focus. ~ William Ruhlmann