Personnel: Joe Friedman, Joe Friedman (guitar); Daryl Waters, Daryl Waters (piano); Calvin "Fuzz" Jones (bass instrument); Tony Cintron, Tony Cintron (percussion); Brian Grice (drums).
Audio Mixer: Cynthia Daniels.
Liner Note Author: Stephen Holden.
Recording information: Cafe Carlyle, Carlyle Hotel, New York, NY (06/2006).
Photographer: Rahav Segev.
Arranger: Daryl Waters.
At age 79, Eartha Kitt remains a remarkably vibrant performer, by the evidence of Live from the Cafe Carlyle, recorded at the tony Eastside Manhattan nightclub. Although she refers to her age, even jumping the gun by half-a-year and calling herself 80, Kitt betrays little evidence of it in a typical set full of witty and romantic songs, some of them rendered masterfully in different languages. "Come-On-A My House," a novelty hit for Rosemary Clooney when Kitt was just starting out in the early '50s, somehow comes out in Japanese, which actually seems to improve it. There's plenty of romance and not a little sex, at least by innuendo, as Kitt evokes such predecessors and departed contemporaries as Edith Piaf, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra. The small audience is audibly appreciative, but sometimes a little behind the performer's rapid-fire wit and taste for provocation. Even when she acknowledges her age with such closing songs as "September Song" and "It Was a Very Good Year," she does so only to affirm that she's still alive and capable; it's still a very good year, she proclaims. She has made a number of live albums, and in a sense, this is just another one. But when your reviews are good enough to reprint as liner notes (as happens here in notices from The New York Times, Variety, and others), a show clearly is worth preserving for posterity, and Live from the Cafe Carlyle is at once a late triumph, a reconfirmation of Kitt's ongoing abilities, and a master class in the art of nightclub performing. ~ William Ruhlmann