Inside This Heart of Mine
Leva-Me Aos Fados
I received jazz/blues chanteuse Catherine Russell’s third release on World Village, Inside This Heart of Mine in early March. I’ve been champing at the bit because I want to shout out to the world about this fabulous recording. And Ms Russell’s provided us with a spicy repertoire filled with jumpin’ jive, New Orleans jazz (Dixieland, I believe), some smooth standards, swing and blues classics. From the opener, the steamy titular with Russell’s captivating vocals to the New Orleans number, Struttin’ with Some Barbeque. The song even entices a vegetarian like me—rhythmically and melodically speaking.
The swinging All the Cats Join In features some stunning solos by Dan Block on saxophone and Jon-Erik Kellso. Russell shows off her vocal prowess on the swing numbers, especially on We the People with its delightful syncopation and on the Gospel-tinged Troubled Waters. She’s equally at home rousing the band as she is belting out those soulful blues laments. Her voice framed by accordion, horns, piano, banjo, acoustic bass, violin, drums, guitar, and tuba, Russell’s recording sounds like a classic.
Jazz ballads such as November and the titular track would be at home on Madeleine Peyroux’s and other standard jazz performers’ recordings, but in Russell’s hands the repertoire of songs composed by Willie Dixon, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and others, boil over with ingenuity. She’s a mature performer who runs circles around her younger contemporaries. Some jazz and blues women vocalists merely emulate those grand dames that came before, but Russell comes off as an original that interprets classics and applies the right nuances from her emotional palette. Inside This Heart of Mine proves unforgettable with the tunes resonating in the mind and body long after the CD stops playing.
Listening to Por minha conta (track 3) it’s easy to see why rock and pop musicians fell in love with Moura’s vocals, or why the fado veterans nurtured the young vocalist’s career. She’s young and from another era, but she sings with gusto and all that she is worth. It would not be unheard of to feel authentic emotions and wipe tears from your eyes while listening to this particular track. And you don’t even need to know the English translation of the text. (English and other language translations of the text appear in the liner notes).
Similar to the flamenco diva that takes us to duende or the blues singer that causes us to feel emotions deep down in our bones, Moura awakens dormant feelings. The 17 tracks provide an emotional map for this musical journey. I just can’t imagine anyone not enjoying the immense pleasures this album provides. And if you’re like me, pick up fado recordings by Mariza, Cristina Branco, Joana Amendoeira and other singers of fate and enjoy a music festival in your home.