[Dixielandjazz] Catherine Russell reviewed

Robert Ringwald rsr at ringwald.com
Mon May 3 08:37:58 PDT 2010

Catherine Russell: Inside This Heart of Mine (World Village)
by Jeff Johnson
Chicago Sun-Times, May 2, 2010

If you went to a USO dance in 1943 and heard Catherine Russell singing this same
material, you'd know you hit the musical jackpot. Her big-band lineup for her third
major-label effort drives Russell in a more traditional direction, as befits her
status as the daughter of Louis Armstrong's bandleader Luis Russell and bassist Carline
Ray, an accompanist for piano great Mary Lou Williams.
Russell started as more of a pop-rock artist than her parents, singing backup for
David Bowie, Steely Dan and Cyndi Lauper, among many others. But at 53, Russell goes
on a musical roots trip here, singing songs by Fats Waller (the title track), Harold
Arlen ("As Long as I Live"), Duke Ellington ("Long, Strong and Consecutive"), Wynonie
Harris ("Quiet Whiskey") and Willie Dixon ("Spoonful"). Even the newer material has
that old-timey bounce to it.
What makes "Heart of Mine" noteworthy as more than a walk down memory lane, though,
is the way Russell reads each of these tunes. Sometimes vocalists who mine classic
gems seem to be seeing the words for the first time in the studio. Russell is the
opposite extreme, inhabiting each of these baker's dozen songs as if she knows them
inside and out, finding nuances that even the original artist may not have spotted.
It's refreshing to see such a solid pro at the top of her game, with a band to match.

--Bob Ringwald
Amateur (ham) Radio call sign K6YBV
Fulton Street Jazz Band

Doesn't "expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?

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