[Dixielandjazz] Roberta Donnay reviewed - Buffalo News

Robert Ringwald rsr at ringwald.com
Mon Dec 17 10:04:24 PST 2012

Roberta Donnay and the Prohibition Mob Band: A Little Sugar (Motema)
by Jeff Simon
Buffalo News, December 16, 2012
"I consider the early women of blues and jazz to be my grandmothers, godmothers,
aunts and elder sisters," writes Roberta Donnay in the notes to this. "Ma Rainey,
Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace, Ida Cox, Josephine Baker, Ethel Waters, Ella and Billie.
These musical pioneers delivered a message to the women of their day to stand up,
have courage and take charge of their lives." Well, no argument, of course, but that
doesn't mean that Donnay's somewhat "cutie pie" voice and delivery are ideal for
these early classics whether we're talking about Ida Cox's "You've Got to Swing and
Sway," Bessie Smith's "You've Been a Good Old Wagon," "Sugar in My Bowl" and "Empty
Bed Blues." (Not since Teresa Brewer's album of lusty Bessie Smith beauties has there
been a voice less like Bessie's behemoth larynx than Donnay's.) On the other hand,
this particular kind of stylistic ancestor worship is going around these days with
some rather delightful results. When Diana Krall was on Letterman singing one of
the better tunes from her hit new disc "Glad Rag Doll," you'd have thought the ever-cool
host was going to burst from the pleasure of it all. Donnay is no Krall and her disc
isn't even close (Krall, after all, had T-Bone Burnett as a collaborator and her
husband Elvis Costello as uncredited adviser) but it's reasonably entertaining on
its own. And her taste in early jazz and blues repertoire is better than that.


-Bob Ringwald
Amateur (ham) Radio Operator K6YBV
916/ 806-9551

"The vote is the instrument and symbol of a free person's power to make a
fool of himself, and a wreck of his country." -Ambrose Bierce

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