Sunday, October 17, 2010

Catherine Russell: Inside This Heart Of Mine

Catherine Russell: Inside This Heart of Mine (English) - Catherine Russell te horen op Nederlandse podia. (Nederlands) Catherine Russell warms up a wet and chilly Middelburg (English) - Catherine Russell warmt een kil en nat Middelburg op ( Nederlands)

Cat's Dutch concert tour during the second half of October.
Hans Koert

Early this year Catherine Russell released her latest album, entitled Inside This Heart of Mine. It is her 3rd album within a few years. In 2006 she released her debut album Cat which was labelled by notorious critics as The most exciting debut album I've heard in a long time ( Quote: Will Friedwald) and a few years later, in 2008, her second album Sentimental Streak was released and became Vocal Album of the Year by Francis Davis in the 2008 Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll.

Catherine Russell (photo courtesy: Stefan Falke)
Catherine Russell, born in New York City in 1956, made her debut album under her own name when she was in her fifties and that is, of course, remarkable. During the last four years she become known as a jazz singer which brought her into the major world jazz festivals, like the Chicago Blu
es Festival, the Jazz Festivals of Montreal, Bern, Rochester and Panama and the Lotus World Music Festival, the I Love Jazz Festival in Brazil and the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam summer 2010. This month she will tour along several venues in Belgium and Holland. Born in a musical family in 1956 in New York City she must have been learned about jazz music at her mother's knee. Her father was Luis Russell, born in Panama in August 1902, who moved to New Orleans at the age of 17 and had been a great piano player in the bars and honky tonks of Storyville, before he moved to Chicago, where he found a place in the orchestra of Joe King Oliver. He made the first recording under his own name as the Russell Hot Six in March 1926. He moved to New York and took over George Howe's band and renamed it as the Luis Russell Orchestra, which would become for a decade the band to accompany Louis Armstrong. In 1948 he retired and abandoned music and became a driver, a candy shopkeeper and a night club owner. Her mother's name is Carline Ray, who was a vocalist and also played the electric guitar. She became in 1946 a member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. She was the singer of the Erskine Hawkins band in 1948 and since then she's to be found in numerous local bands and had her own group, Carline Ray Trio. She was a holder of advanced degrees in music from Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music. During the 1970s she played in the Skitch Henderson Big Band and led groups by Melba Liston and piano player Nina Seldon. She also performed with Mary Lou Williams and Wynton Marsalis. And, nowadays, she's still active in music. As an infant Catherine met all those jazz musicians that were regular visitors and clambered onto Satchmo's lap and she raised in a house filled with jazz sounds. She went to the High School of Music and Art and received a degree in Theatre at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
She became a professional singer in a gospel group, directed by Carrie Smith and toured with that group in Europe. Her mother played the bass in that group. Back in the States she became a member of the Jimmy Vivino’s Little Big Band and got a role in the N.Y. Rock 'n Soul Revue. She became a backing vocalist in bands like Steely Dan, sung with Paul Simon, David Bowie and numerous trend setting pop artists of the day. So, when she started a solo career in her fifties, she could already look back upon a long career in popular music.

Cartherine Russell - Inside This Heart of Mine ( World Village 468092) ( photo courtesy: Stefan Falke)
When I first read about Catherine Russell in the Dutch Jazzism magazine in an article Het moet terug naar de Roots - De historische inspiratie van Catherine Russell ( = Back to the roots – the historical inspiration by Catherine Russell) by Coen De Jonge, I hadn't heard about her. At first sight some people might label her as a one of those vocalist a dime a dozen, but nothing if further from the truth and the Dutch audience has the opportunity this month to learn that Catherine Russell is a gifted vocalist that knows her roots.
Catherine Russell ( photo courtesy: Stefan Falke)
When I first heard the title song of her new album, Inside This Heart Of Mine I was astonished to hear this tune sung by a contemporary artist as I only knew it from the great 1938 Fats Waller version normally known with its short name Inside. And what to think about We The People? Another Fats Waller tune, seldom heard since Fats recorded it on the 1st of July, 1938. It opens with a great piano intro á la Fats Waller, by Mark Shane, who can play stride like Fats, and will join Catherine during her Dutch tour. Trumpet player Jon-Erik Kellso improvises on the album in a style similiar to that of Herman Autrey and guitar player Matt Munisteri has listened well to Al Casey, both musicians from Waller's Rhythm. Great to hear this famous sextet revived!

What a great musicians Catherine has invited to accompany her on this album. The tunes Long, Strong and Consecutive and Troubled Waters are both dedicated to Duke Ellington where vocalist Ivie Anderson shined in the latter in a 1934 Duke Ellington recording. Catherine knows her roots and that's why I started this small review with an extensive portrait of both her parents. No retro-music, no copies of the originals, but great, almost forgotten tunes, sung by a passionate vocalists as if its was written yesterday .................. Each song in the album has a story and goes back into the history of jazz music. She ends the album with two oldies from the 1920s. Struttin' With Some Barbecue is a dated tune known from numerous Dixieland versions and that's the way Catherine's band plays it, but when Catherine starts to sing it sounds new and fresh. This track refers to Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five. In Slow as Molasses Catherine honours her father's musical heritage. This tune was originally recorded for Okeh in April 1929 as an instrumental by the Jungle Town Stompers, one of the bands directed by her father. The words were added by Rachelle Garniez. It has that great 1920s sound ( with Matt Munisteri on banjo!), thanks to that great band that accompanies her on this album.
Catherine Russell ( photo courtesy Stefan Falke)
Catherine Russell and her piano player Mark Shane will make a tour along Dutch venues. On the 23rd of October they will give a small in-store concert at the Drvkkery - a book shop and record store - in Middelburg ( 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.). I'll hope to join that!

On the 24th of October they can be heard on the Dutch TV-program Kunststof TV and the radio program Met het oog op morgen ( Radio 1).
The tour:
22nd of October: De Kring (Roosendaal) - 23rd: De Drvkkery (Middelburg) - Cultureel Centrum (Leopoldsburg) (B) - 27th: Odeon Spiegel (Zwolle) - 28th: Theater 't Speelhuis ( Helmond) - 29th: Zaantheater (Zaandam) - 31st:
Theater De Vest ( Alkmaar)
The record Catherine Russell - Inside This Heart of Mine is available at your local or online record shop.
Hans Koert

Catherine Russell launched her first album under her own name when she was gone fifty - this year her third album Inside This Heart of Mine was released. Before that she was active as a back ground singer on numerous pop albums, but now, on this turning point in her life, she seems to follow in her parents footsteps: singing jazz music. Catherine Russell is the daughter of the legendary band leader Luis Russell and Carline Ray, member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. She's not one of those ten a penny vocalists, as she knows her roots and loves to share it on her album. Keep Swinging loves to join her small concert at the Drvkkery in Middelburg ( south west part of The Netherlands) next weekend ........... Keep Swinging blog: Don't miss it. Ask for its newsletter.

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Anonymous annie said...

I'd like to reserve tickets for Cat's show in Almere! How can I do that if her show isn't on their program yet?

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Hans said...

Dear Annie,

Contact me at keepswinging at live point nl


4:55 PM  
Anonymous Hans said...

Dear Annie,

I learned that the Almere concert has been cancelled.


1:16 PM  

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