When rock music swept everything away like a tide, the whole generation of musicians who harked back to big bands and American Songbook suddenly found themselves floundering aimlessly. Some found a haven in Las Vegas, others in Far East where Jazz market was the next new thing, than you have some really big names that gamely tried to adopt to new music. Almost without exception these attempts were half-hearted - one listening at pop crossover recordings by Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Tormé or any of them and its veering closely to easy-listening, but not smooth enough for radio play since they were Jazz based. Oddly enough, the most idiosyncratic and mannered vocalist of them actually sounds perfectly fine.
Carmen McRae might have not been the immediate choice for pop crossover but apparently Nesuhi Ertegun and the guys at Atlantic had a huge respect for her and were determined to give her a push in that direction: no less than four studio albums and one live recording served her nicely until she found her way to Blue Note and eventually later returned to American Songbook. Here I must say that out of all famous American Jazz vocalists who attempted pop crossover, hers are the most enjoyable. And this is not because she suddenly sounded pop - completely opposite, because she was so completely fully formed and charismatic (in her late forties at the time) McRae sounded exactly like her own self, no matter what material producers put in front of her. That ironic, tough attitude stance is always there, mixed with a sudden outbursts of unexpected tenderness and vulnerability - along with covers which were back than expected, as Stevie Wonder, Beach Boys, Dusty Springfield or The Beatles, the biggest surprise is her version of stately Italian ballad "La Musica È Finita" that great lady covered as "Our Song" with a perfect ease and it suits her to a T. It might not have been a great commercial success because rock bands were all the rage, but it worked perfectly fine as the step into current direction for McRae who have not changed a single bit and sounded as she always did.