Jun 21, 2019
It’s always a pleasure to hear a new release from Catherine Russell. One of our most versatile and consistently interesting vocalists, Ms. Russell has become the standard bearer for a particular type of jazz, carrying the torch for the songs of the Twenties, Thirties and Forties that might have slipped away without her stewardship. A student of songs, she comes by her interest in 20th century tunes naturally: her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist/bandleader/arranger/composer, and Louis Armstrong’s long-time collaborator and musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, was a pioneering bassist/guitarist/vocalist and holder of advanced degrees from Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Ruth Brown.
As a singer who is also a graduate of American Academy of Dramatic Arts, it should come as no surprise that Catherine has a significant role in the recent film Bolden, portraying New Orleans madame Lalique Lill, singing "Make Me A Pallet On The Floor."
With the release of her latest CD, Alone Together, she breathes life into Swing Era tunes, both the well-known (“How Deep is the Ocean”, the title track) and more obscure (“He May Be Your Dog But He’s Wearing My Collar”). She’s been fortunate to have the same core band for the better part of ten years, and once again she can count on the support of guitarist Matt Munisteri, pianist Mark Shane, bassist Tal Ronen, and drummer Mark McLean. The result is no exercise in nostalgia, but rather another in a series of successes by an experienced singer who knows how to pick a tune and what to do with it.
Podcast 684 is my conversation with Catherine Russell as we discuss her song selection for Alone Together, her participation in the Bolden film, and her very busy summer of touring. She will be serving as musical director for a special one night concert: Remembering The Holmes Brothers, featuring Sherman Holmes, Joan Osborne, Amy Helm, and Chris Bruce on June 18th at the City Winery in New York, and sing at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing in Damrosch Park on July 3rd as part of the Sisterhood of Swing Seven led by Bria Skonberg. Later in the season and into the fall she will rejoin old friend Donald Fagen in the post-Walter Becker version of Steely Dan.
Musical selections for Podcast 684 include “He May Be Your Dog But He’s Wearing My Collar”; Louis Jourdan's "Early in the Morning" plus "Make Me A Pallet On The Floor" from the Bolden soundtrack and “Babylon Sisters” from Steely Dan’s Alive in America release in 1995.