Pop: Ballad of the Sad Cafe Singer

"Sadness," says Singer Carmen McRae, "is more realistic than happiness. Everybody has had at least one unhappy affair of the heart. When I sing the sad love songs, that's when I really get down to serious business."

Last week, at Mister Kelly's in Chicago, Carmen got down to serious business with an ironic, wistful version of Guess Who I Saw Today, a yearning For Once in My Life, a bittersweet Too Good. Her low-pitched, plangent voice was hazed over by the elusive quality that Carol Channing once described as "a haunt." Her heavy-lidded gaze expressed a wise and womanly woe, and...

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