You guys asked for it, so here it is: Mariah Carey freestyling with the house Jazz band in a New York bar! Shot on the same day as her (not so great) set at the NFL Kickoff [read about it/watch it here], the songbird showed that, when in her vocal comfort zone, she can still deliver the goods.
What I hope people really take away from this performance is Mariah Carey's natural musicality. Identifying the key by ear alone, the Diva went on to produce original runs and melodies that both complimented and worked within the constraints of it- all on the spot. (Well, apart from the showy bottom note she hits at 2.20.) It's by no means an easy thing to do; especially when you involve halftones in the melisma. It's a skill not all Divas have, with many relying on a stockpile of rehearsed vocal tricks and runs when they are called on to "improvise".
It's like I've always said: Mariah performs best when relaxed, comfortable and not worrying about whether she's going to hit the next big note or not. Unfortunately, trying to showcase the range of her youth in new material means that live performances are always going to be hit and miss.
Jazz album, anyone?
Late addition: A video that shows some other great Mariah Carey improv moments.