What do you do when the thrill is gone? Bring it Back. What Katherine Russell brings back on her fifth album is the thrill of ‘Swing’. Behind her direct and warm stylings you get into hearing echoes of Roy Eldridge’s muted trumpet in front of Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra; Louis Armstrong’s horn with his own band; Basie on piano with Freddy Green on guitar, or Ellington leading Jimmy Blanton on bass and Ben Webster on sax.
Of course, Swing never really went away, so you’re entitled to hear Jimmy McGriff’s bluesy riffs behind Catherine as she vamps the 1956 hit “After the Lights Go Down Low.” Her second track “I’m Shooting High,” has the Jimmy McHugh signature vibe that helped real jazz be popular and become perennial. The album has tunes by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Harold Arlen, Johnny Otis and Johnny Green that all make you want to dance, fast or slow. But you also want to listen to Russell’s phrasing which never calls attention to itself, but always takes you into the emotion of the song. My nominee for the most interesting number is “Aged And Mellow.” By including this tune, Catherine Russell brings back the tradition of bandleader Johnny Otis, who also wrote “Hound Dog” and discovered singers Little Esther, Etta James, and Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton.
Catherine Russell was born into the history of jazz. Her mother is the recently deceased vocalist Carline Ray, who played rhythm guitar back in the day for Erskine Hawkins and Mary Lou Williams. Her father, Luis Russell led the band and arranged for Louis Armstrong who wrote the ballad “Lucille” which she records here for the first time. To share her personal heritage project on the Harmonia Mundi Jazz Village imprint, Catherine Russell collaborated with a fine ten-piece band and arrangers who make the music sound authentic for then and real for now. It’s a keeper.
Track Listing: 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 Light Go Down Low; I’m Sticking With You Baby; Strange as it Seems; Public Melody Number One; I Cover The Waterfront.
Personnel: Catherine Russell: vocals, percussion (6, 10); Matt Munisteri: guitar; Mark Shane: piano; Lee Hudson: bass (1-5, 7-13); Nicki Parrott: bass (6); Mark McLean: drums, percussion (6); Andy Farber: tenor saxophone; Jon-Erik Kellso: trumpet; Brian Pareschi: trumpet (2-13); Dan Block: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone (5), clarinet (4); John Allred: trombone; Mark Lopeman: baritone saxophone; Glen Patscha: Hammond B-3 (6, 9, 10).