When I listen to Billie Holiday sing "Strange Fruit," I concentrate on the words and, of course, her voice. Although Miche Braden does a credible job singing in James Carter's version on the CD "Gardenias for Lady Day," listening to it this week the importance of the music underlying what is one of the most gripping songs I know stood out.
In part that's because of what Carter and his mates do with it in a reading I think of as operatic, but I think it's powerful music in any event and integral to the song's impact.
This really is an excellent Carter CD overall. Even though it's maybe his most "conventional" disk, it gives a great feel for his amazing command of the saxophone, or saxophones since he plays four different types, plus bass and contrabass clarinets, over the course of the program.