A live date recorded at the Bottom Line in New York City, Whatever Happened to Love?
features Betty Carter
with her trio of the time backed by a 15-piece orchestra (mostly strings) conducted by David Amram
. It's an enjoyable set, though not up to the ecstatic heights Ms. Carter
often achieved in the '60s and early '70s. The pieces chosen are generally slow and even torchy, with the exception of her classic "With No Words" and, especially when the strings are present, there's a bit too much plushness and too little bite. But when it's only the trio, her unique voice is given a good opportunity to shine, and she digs into the material with obvious relish. Her ability to bend saccharine tunes like Bacharach
's "I Cry Alone" or "Cocktails for Two" to her own creative ends is always a joy and on good display here. Overall, not an absolutely essential Carter
release, but one that could well turn the heads of listeners either unfamiliar with her or those who have previously shied away.