Daily Archives: January 13, 2014

CATHERINE RUSSELL BRINGS IT BACK, INDEED

We’re glad that there is a Catherine Russell, and she’s generously offered us another delicious helping of the heartfelt swing she and her colleagues create — in a new CD, called BRING IT BACK:

CATHERINE RUSSELL: BRING IT BACK (Jazz Village JVS 97001) Bring it Back; I’m Shooting High; I Let A Song Go out of My Heart; You Got To Swing and Sway; Aged and Mellow; the Darktown Strutters’ Ball; Lucille; You’ve Got Me Under Your Thumb; After the Lights Go Down Low; I’m Sticking With You Baby; Strange As It Seems; Public Melody Number One; I Cover The Waterfront.

Catherine Russell is a marvel: a great star and entertainer who gives herself utterly to the music, the rhythm, the words, and the emotions. She could have been a true rival for any of the great singers of the past, but she sounds utterly like herself.

She doesn’t have a gravelly voice or carry a handkerchief, but she embodies the warm, vibrant spirit of Louis Armstrong. That isn’t surprising, because her parents were Armstrong’s long-time pianist and musical director Luis Russell and singer / bassist Carline Ray.

BRING IT BACK continues her series of energized yet subtle CDs that draw on little-known tunes from an earlier era (composers from her father to Fats Waller, Harold Arlen, Jimmy McHugh, and Ida Cox) and blues-based material associated with Esther Phillips, Al Hibbler, Wynonie Harris and Little Willie John. The disc is emotionally satisfying, because Russell proves herself an adult who brings a consistent understanding to the emotions of each song. When the CD is over, it seems as if it’s just begun — and that’s not a matter of timing but of our pleasure: we want to hear more!

Russell’s voice is a pleasure in itself, with a high clear cornet-like attack when she chooses to croon an optimistic love song or romp through a swing fiesta such as SWING AND SWAY or PUBLIC MELODY. (At times she sounds like Ray Nance. Is there a higher compliment?) She takes on the dark rasp of a tenor saxophone when she sings the blues: Ben Webster, feeling low-down and grouchy, awakened too early.

Whatever the material or tempo, her intonation and time are splendid; no faux-Holiday lingering behind the beat for her. Russell’s energy comes through whole on BRING IT BACK, just as audiences worldwide have seen her dancing around the stage, a woman giving herself to rhythm.

On this disc, she is surrounded by a limber medium-sized band of New York swing stars: Mark Shane, piano; Matt Munisteri, guitar; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; John Allred, trombone; Andy Farber, Dan Block, Mark Lopeman, reeds; Lee Hudson, string bass; Mark McLean, drums; Brian Pareschi, trumpet; Nicki Parrott, string bass; Glenn Patscha, Hammond B-3 organ. The band evokes but doesn’t copy swing and rhythm and blues from the last century, encouraging Russell to be inspired, never derivative. The CD moves from jitterbug extravaganzas to dark midnight blues without a letup. I found myself playing my favorite tracks over and over.

Louis would be proud.

May your happiness increase!

EAST SIDE STOMP: GORDON AU’S GRAND STREET STOMPERS at the CAFE CARLYLE (Part Two), DECEMBER 19, 2013: GORDON AU, TAMAR KORN, DENNIS LICHTMAN, MATT MUSSELMAN, NICK RUSSO, ROB ADKINS, KEVIN DORN

I’ll say it again.

It was an event in contemporary New York swing history, a memorable group making its debut at a famous nightspot. On Thursday, December 19, 2013, the Grand Street Stompers made the Cafe Carlyle their own, and an enthusiastic audience responded. Here’s the second part of what they saw and heard (the first part is here):

GRAND STREET STOMPERS CARLYLE

Thanks to the Stompers and to event host Michael Katsobashvili, it was a true event, featuring the extraordinary vocal improviser Tamar Korn, trumpeter / composer Gordon Au, clarinetist Dennis Lichtman, trombonist Matt Musselman, guitarist/banjoist Nick Russo, bassist Rob Adkins, percussionist Kevin Dorn.  (The JAZZ LIVES cinematographer apologizes to the rhythm section for leaving them out of the picture, but we know they are there and we are grateful for it.)

WALTZ OF THE FLOWERS:

WILD MAN BLUES:

ALL THE OTHER CHRISTMAS SONGS:

SOMEHOW THE WORLD HAS TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN:

and as an encore, LET YOURSELF GO:

 

May your happiness increase!

MARTY and the MERMAID in 2014

I wish I could draw: I would create the cartoon that my title encourages, of Marty Grosz — bowtie and archtop — either embracing or being embraced by or singing to — a Jazz Mermaid. But you’ll have to imagine it for yourselves.

This post isn’t about cross-species romance or a new Disney film. I simply wish to mention that the peerless guitarist, singer, scholar, wit Martin Oliver Grosz, Himself, will be appearing at the Mermaid Inn in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, on these Friday nights in 2014: January 31, April 25, August 29, November 7.  The music runs from 8:30 PM – midnight. The cast of characters will shift during this Tour, but cornetist Danny Tobias is a certainty; expect a bassist and perhaps another horn. The Mermaid Inn is located at 7673 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19118: (215) 247-9797.  It is cozy and neighborly, and the prices will not appall or astonish.

Here are two videos I recorded during one of Marty’s 2013 appearances — with Danny Tobias, Dan Block, and Ed Wise — inducement for the Faithful to mark their calendars and go:

‘WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS:

WE’RE IN THE MONEY:

May your happiness increase!