13 Songs, 47 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Time is a relative term for Catherine Russell, a late bloomer who has sang backup for many modern-day stars. Her own material has been steeped in early jazz and blues since she made her debut in 2006. Suffice to say, the title of her fifth solo album may be her agenda as well as the name of the opening tune. Here, the daughter of two jazz musicians—her dad played with Louis Armstrong in the ‘40s and led bands, while her Juilliard-trained mom played bass and sang—pays tribute to her parents by covering tunes she associates with them, using a swinging 10-piece band instead of her usual small groups. The results are predictably excellent. Russell covers her dad’s “Lucille” and offers new versions of classics like a lush-sounding “I Cover the Waterfront” and a light “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart.” Even when she does soulful blues like the title track, there’s an upbeat tone that screams for a Saturday night out dancing and having fun—and that’s something that's never gone out of style for Russell or anyone else.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Time is a relative term for Catherine Russell, a late bloomer who has sang backup for many modern-day stars. Her own material has been steeped in early jazz and blues since she made her debut in 2006. Suffice to say, the title of her fifth solo album may be her agenda as well as the name of the opening tune. Here, the daughter of two jazz musicians—her dad played with Louis Armstrong in the ‘40s and led bands, while her Juilliard-trained mom played bass and sang—pays tribute to her parents by covering tunes she associates with them, using a swinging 10-piece band instead of her usual small groups. The results are predictably excellent. Russell covers her dad’s “Lucille” and offers new versions of classics like a lush-sounding “I Cover the Waterfront” and a light “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart.” Even when she does soulful blues like the title track, there’s an upbeat tone that screams for a Saturday night out dancing and having fun—and that’s something that's never gone out of style for Russell or anyone else.

TITLE TIME
3:54
2:31
4:08
3:09
4:40
2:39
3:55
2:39
5:23
3:07
3:30
3:13
5:01

About Catherine Russell

Jazz and blues vocalist Catherine Russell, a native of New York City, was born with distinctive bloodlines. Her father was Luis Russell, the renowned big-band leader who was born in Panama and lived in New Orleans and New York City. He was a groundbreaking vintage jazzman -- a pianist, composer/arranger, and most prominently, the music director for Louis Armstrong in the mid-'40s. Her mother was Carline Ray, a veteran jazz bassist, vocalist, graduate of the Juilliard and Manhattan Schools of Music, and famous for performing with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Wynton Marsalis, among many others. Naturally Catherine Russell was influenced by old-time blues and jazz singers like Bessie Smith, Ruth Brown, and Etta James, as well as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Nancy Wilson, Abbey Lincoln, and gospel and opera music. But she was a late bloomer, not establishing a recording career as a leader until much later in life.

Ray has appeared at numerous festivals and on nationally syndicated radio and television shows. As a backup singer, she has worked with Paul Simon, David Bowie, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Joan Osborne, and Madonna. One may have also heard her voice on TV and radio commercials for Bud Light, Oil of Olay, J.C. Penney, and Dairy Queen, or singing jazz with groups including bassist Earl May, pianist Larry Ham, drummer Eddie Locke, or Jimmy Wormworth, Russell emerged as a retro old-school vocalist for the ages. She finally debuted on her own in the 2000s with Cat (2006) for the World Village label, with guitarist Frank Portolese and banjo or mandolin player Stuart J. Rosenberg, followed by Sentimental Streak (2008) featuring guitarist/producer Larry Campbell and special guests Howard Johnson and Steven Bernstein, recorded at the studios of Levon Helm in Woodstock, New York. The following decade, Russell released Strictly Romancin' (2012), Bring It Back (2014), and Harlem on My Mind (2016), the last of which was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Jazz Vocal Album. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Songs

Albums

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