Catherine Russell, Bring it Back, Jazz Village

From 2014. The time may well be right for another old time record, given the alchemy achieved last year by Cécile McLorin Salvant and to an extent René Marie although...

Published: 12 Nov 2019. Updated: 3 months.

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From 2014. The time may well be right for another old time record, given the alchemy achieved last year by Cécile McLorin Salvant and to an extent René Marie although both were actually very modern records as well in certain ways. Bring it Back is more orthodox old time if you like in a kind of gospel-and-swing-dipping-into-Dixie sense and follows on from Russell’s 2012 outing Strictly Romancin’.

The daughter of famed bandleader Luis Russell, who arranged for Louis Armstrong in the 1930s and 1940s (and whose unknown but stimulating song for Armstrong, ‘Lucille’, makes its playfully perky swinging debut here), and the late Carline Ray, a guitarist in the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Russell has a quality voice as soft and sweet as molasses, girl-like on ‘I’m Shooting High’, much gutsier and effortlessly powerful on ‘You’ve Got To Swing and Sway’. She is backed by a lively band with clarinettist Dan Block providing some Dixie touches at certain points while Mark Shane’s achingly slow piano accompaniment on Johnny Otis’ ‘Aged and Mellow’ allows Russell to make this song about preferring older men (‘I like my men like I like my whiskey/Aged and mellow’) creep along atmospherically even if it’s a much less earthy version of the song than Little Esther’s 1952 rendition. And while Russell comes into her own on the highly rhythmic take of ‘The Darktown Strutter's Ball’ where drummer Mark McLean shines, it’s the earthier side of Russell’s voice that’s crying out to burst through although that starts to emerge on ‘I’m Sticking With You Baby’ (a song co-written by Rudy Toombs who also penned ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’).

Bring it Back has some really well captured tenor saxophone breaks from Andy Farber including one on ‘Lucillle’ that sound like the music of a lost era come alive and highlights include Russell’s very smooth take on Fats Waller and Andy Razaf’s ‘Strange as it Seems.’ SG

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