Sloane: A Jazz Singer Image

Sloane: A Jazz Singer

By Bradley Gibson | March 6, 2023

Director Michael Lippert’s documentary, Sloane: A Jazz Singer, shines the spotlight on the career of the relatively unknown torch singer Carol Sloane. Sloane was active in the 1960s and then again in the 80s. She performed at the 1961 Newport Jazz festival and had a massive following in Japan, where she toured. From humble beginnings in Northern Rhode Island, she started her career at the age of 14, singing in the Ed Drew Orchestra and playing at local establishments. She played with Rhode Island jazz legends such as Dave McKenna, Mike Renzi, and Artie Cabral. She was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

Filmed in 2019, Lippert’s movie fills us in on Sloane’s life and career as she prepares for one final live recording in New York City. Throughout, the singer reflects on her prosperous career, including several brushes with some of the greatest names in music, from Ella Fitzgerald to The Rolling Stones. When we meet Sloane, she is in her 80s and has not had much in the way of success for decades.

Nevertheless, Sloane recounts for the camera the many friends and adventures she had in the world of Jazz. She talks about how the advent of the Beatles’ British Invasion in 1964 was the beginning of the end of lounge Jazz. Sloane led a fascinating life and can still powerfully perform. She seems to be struggling in her life, but the making of the documentary and the anticipation of her live performance appears to energize her.

“…Sloane’s life and career as she prepares for one final live recording in New York City.”

As any good documentary should, Sloane: A Jazz Singer shows us a slice of life we would not otherwise know about and, at the same time, entertains us with amazing music, photographs, and clips from the subject’s career. That said, there is a minor issue with the tone. The filmmaker doesn’t do enough to introduce Sloane. The style is too intimate for the viewer, who likely has no idea who Carol Sloane is. The effect is a bit like being compelled to watch a neighbor’s home movies about their aged aunt whose band once opened for Sinatra.

Overall, it’s an engaging film but falls just short of creating the connections one needs to be truly engrossed in the story. The characters appearing in and out of the singer’s life are a who’s who of celebrities from the peak of the lounge Jazz era. Pianist Renzi played for Lady Gaga and other luminaries until he passed in 2021. 

Shortly after production of the documentary, Sloane suffered a massive stroke and spent two years in a senior care home before her death in January of 2023. Sloane: A Jazz Singer affectionately documents a life, as well as a specific bygone era of wonderful Jazz music.

For more information, visit the Sloane: A Jazz Singer official website.

Sloane: A Jazz Singer (2023)

Directed: Michael Lippert


Starring: Carol Sloane, Catherine Russell, Mike Renzi, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Sloane: A Jazz Singer Image


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