Sunday, February 3, 2013

In Review--Setting the Mood (Valentine's Day Jazz)

Catherine Russell
Strictly Romancin’
World Village/Harmonia Mundi (2012)

A follow-up to her World Village CD, Inside This Heart of Mine Catherine Russell’s Strictly Romancin’ sizzles with nostalgia.  Opening with New Orleans jazz, Under the Spell of the Blues and then following that with the sultry ballad, I’m in the Mood for Love, why not revisit the album this Valentine’s Day? I admit, I’m reviewing the album a year after its release, but that just proves the staying power of this recording.  Russell has style to burn and she seems equally at ease belting out a bluesy piece as she does in conveying heartfelt emotions with the soulful ballads.  She kicks up dust with Wake Up and Live, which will cause listeners to wake up and dance.

I enjoy watching Russell’s videos on YouTube too.  Check out her version of the saucy Kitchen Man or any of the promotional pieces from her World Village recordings.  On Strictly Romancin’, Russell teams up with a tight horn section, accordion, piano, clarinet, and jazz drums.  A lot of care goes into the arrangements and at times I recall Duke Ellington’s orchestra with its colorful players with musical tricks up their sleeves.  Listen to the soloists on Ev’ntide with all the razzmatazz of New Orleans jazz--dang, is it carnival time already? Romance in the Dark showcases Russell’s blues range when the singer sets her voice loose. For anyone who enjoyed Madeleine Peyroux's interpretation of No More, (Careless Love) will enjoy Russell's hearty version too (she cranks up the volume).  In fact, Russell excels when singing jazz and blues classics and in the process she provides listeners with melodic jazz that sets moods.
For anyone who already has this CD in his or her collection, dust it off in time for Valentine's Day.

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