Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Sloane, Carol (Carol Morvan)

Sloane, Carol [Carol Morvan], singer; b. Providence, RI, 5 March 1937. She was born to Claudia and Frank Morvan, the older of two daughters, but she never lived in that city. Instead, she spent her happy childhood in the small town of Smithfield, just a few short miles north of the city. Her parents worked steadily through the years of World War II in the textile mill near their home. Carol was the lucky member of a large family of cousins, aunts and uncles who all possessed natural singing voices. Only one uncle ever received formal musical education, and he played the tenor sax.

In 1951, her Uncle Joe arranged an audition for her with a society dance band led by Ed Drew, and she began singing the stock arrangements of popular hits of the day each Wednesday and Saturday night at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet Ballroom, located in Cranston, Rhode Island. In 1955, Carol married a Providence disc jockey named Charlie Jefferds, and almost immediately, the couple found themselves at Fort Carson, Colorado where Charlie endured the rigors of basic training followed by a one-year obligatory tour of duty in Germany. They returned to the US in January 1958, and were amicably divorced in that year. Carol continued to sing in small bars and clubs until she met the road manager of the Les and Larry Elgart Orchestra, which was touring the amusement park ballrooms in the southern New England area. She auditioned for Larry Elgart, who then asked her to come to New York with his band. The brothers had recently split the organization, Les taking the territory west of Chicago, Larry to handle everything east of Chicago. Larry Elgart suggested she change her name to Carol Sloane.

When she began singing at age fourteen, she called herself Carol Vann, and was singing and recording under that name when she joined Larry's [Elgart] band. He didn't much like Vann, so every night for the first six months, he introduced her as Carol "Smith", Carol "Price", Carol "Rogers"... as he experimented to see what he thought might "fit". Finally, one day in his office he hit on Sloane, and she cried "YES"!!! She made it legal around 1959.

The "road years" with the Larry Elgart band continued until 1960, when the road simply became too boring and too difficult for her. After two years on the road, she was still unknown, and there were no singing engagements to be had. She took various secretarial jobs booked through Manhattan temp agencies. She continued her working relationship with the former road manager of the Elgart band, who had become an agent in the office of the legendary Willard Alexander. This man, Bob Bonis, arranged for Carol to sing at a jazz festival in Pittsburgh in 1960, at which time she met Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

 Jon Hendricks asked Carol if she could learn the LH&R book in order to be prepared to take Annie Ross' place if that ever became necessary. Carol agreed to study the group's exacting material, and continued her secretarial gigs. Then, one night in early 1961, when attending a performance of LH&R at the Village Vanguard, Jon asked Carol to sing a couple of tunes on her own, after which the legendary proprietor Max Gordon asked her if she'd like to sing at the club the following August as opening act for Oscar Peterson. In her own words, "I stammered an acceptance, and walked five feet off the ground on the way home".

Another auspicious move was quietly being made for Carol in 1961, without her knowledge: Jon Hendricks made a very persuasive argument to the producers that Carol should be included in that year's Newport Jazz Festival as part of the "New Stars" program. On the afternoon of that presentation, Carol had the use of the Ike Isaacs Trio which backed LH&R. The pianist, Gildo Mahones, didn't know the verse to the Rodgers & Hart song "Little Girl Blue" so Carol blithely suggested she would sing it a cappella, and did so. The New York press unanimously praised the young woman's talent, exceptional intonation and pitch, and she was also heard by a representative of Columbia Records. 

In the 1960's, Carol Sloane sang in major clubs such as Mr. Kelly's in Chicago where she opened for Jackie Mason and the Smothers Brothers; at the hungry i in San Francisco where she opened for Bill Cosby, Godfrey Cambridge and Richard Pryor; she also opened for Phyllis Diller, Stiller and Meara and Jackie Vernon at the Blue Angel in New York; she appeared regularly on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and became a regular member of the radio cast on Arthur Godfrey's CBS weekly program. She continued to record and make club and concert appearances during this decade until the Beatles and rock 'n roll began to consume the popular culture, forcing some jazz venues to the edge of ruin.  In 1969, Carol accepted an offer to sing in a club in Raleigh, North Carolina, found the atmosphere in that city very much less hectic than New York, with an audience eager to hear and support jazz artists. She relocated to the south at the beginning of 1970.

Carol worked both as a singer and a legal secretary for the next several years, eventually returning to New York to begin a turbulent relationship with a legendary jazz pianist, Jimmy Rowles. Jimmy's reputation as a master accompanist and soloist was solid and undisputed, but his alcoholism made their situation often stormy. He did, however, pull himself together long enough to play for Ella Fitzgerald when Tommy Flanagan left after almost twenty years of accompanying the great singer. Jimmy's tenure was much shorter: only two years at the outside. He then decided to return to Los Angeles, and did so at the end of 1980. Carol also left New York, this time returning to her beloved New England.  She arrived in Boston in January, 1981, accepted a job in a prestigious law firm, and promptly threw away the idea of an "ordinary" life when a friend asked her to return to N.C. to help him in his new supper club recently opened in Chapel Hill. Carol bo oked her friends into the club: Shirley Horn, Joe Williams, George Shearing, Marian McPartland, Anita O'Day, Jackie & Roy, and Carmen McRae. This club managed to last all of two years, a remarkable accomplishment. Carol also hosted a radio show at the NPR affiliate in Chapel Hill. In 1984, while singing in a Boston club, she met the man whom she would eventually marry.

Her marriage to Buck Spurr took place in November, 1986, and Carol has lived in the Boston area since that time. She recorded two albums for Contemporary in 1988 and 1989, then signed with Concord Jazz in 1991, recording six solo albums and touring Japan many times as part of the Concord-Fujitsu Festival. Carol stayed busy making her debut with the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Boston in 1998, then with the New York Pops Orchestra in 1999. Ms. Sloane's favorite flower is the white rose.

Out of the Blue (1962); Carol Sloane Live At 30th Street (1962); Subway Tokens (1975); Carol and Ben (with Ben Webster) (1977); Sophisticated Lady (1977); Spring Is Here (1977); Cottontail (1978); Carol Sings (1979); As Time Goes By (1982); Carol Sloane Live with Joe Puma (1984); Three Pearls (with Ernestine Anderson and Chris Connor) (1984); A Night of Ballads (1984); On The Road (1985); The Premium Album (1986); Early Hours (1987); But Not For Me (1987); Love You Madly (1989); The Real Thing (1990); Heart's Desire (1992); Midnight Sun (1993); Sweet & Slow (1993); When I Look In Your Eyes (1994); The Songs Carmen Sang (1995); The Songs Sinatra Sang (1996); The Songs Ella & Louis Sang (with Clark Terry) (1997); Romantic Ellington (1999); I Never Went Away (2001); Carol Sloane Ballad Essentials (2001)
As sideperson:
Larry Elgart and His Orchestra: Saratoga (1959), New Sounds At The Roosevelt (1959), Easy Goin' Swing (1960); Bess Bonnier: And Other Jazz Birds (1985); Various artists: Concord All-Stars On Cape Cod (1992), A Concord Jazz Christmas (1994), 'S Wonderful: Concord Jazz Salutes Ira Gershwin (1996), Jazz Celebration: A Tribute To Carl Jefferson (1996), An Irving Berlin Songbook (1997), Jazz Moods: Jazz At Day's End (1999), Jazz Moods: Jazz In The Afternoon (2000), Jazz Moods: A Great Day Of Jazz (2000), Williams-Sonoma Sunday Brunch (2000)

Radio broadcasts:
In March 2000, she began a second career in radio, hosting The Jazz Matinee, a four-hour jazz program, five days a week on WICN-FM, the NPR affiliate in Worcester, Mass. This jazz show took a full year's time to produce, until, in the spring of 2001, a heavy performance schedule made it necessary for Carol to leave WICN to resume touring and also record a new CD. 

Contact information:

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