The always eclectic Maria Muldaur, whose previous albums have paid tribute to Shirley Temple and blues women of the '20s, takes another musical detour in this collection of songs associated with Peggy Lee. In addition to her cool, sexy, relaxed voice, Lee was arguably more talented than other vocalists from her era. As a songwriter she co-penned some of her own material, including the swinging "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'" with Duke Ellington, which features the witty double entendres that spice several other songs. Muldaur possesses a similar ability to purr ("Some Cats Know") or sizzle (an opening tour de force of "Fever" and "Black Coffee") without breaking a sweat. So this collection of 12 tracks, backed by a talented yet restrained eight-piece band, is a natural extension of her vocal strengths. The stylish, retro arrangements include vibes and big-band-styled horn charts that sound as authentic as if they were recorded in the '30s. Even though there are some finger-popping swing numbers (a zippy duet with Dan Hicks on Ted Shapiro's "Winter Weather" is especially peppy), a late-night, languid blues-jazz vibe dominates.
One of just two albums to be released by the easier-going American equivalent of Richard & Linda Thompson (without the brooding gloom and biting irony), this set includes some virtuoso folk-blues performances, as well as the version of "Brazil" made famous in Terry Gilliam's movie of the same name. Though the ten tunes here are all covers, Geoff & Maria Muldaur treat each as if molded from clay of their own making, just as they had old traditional numbers as members of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. It's probably no coincidence that this album would eventually find its way to Joe Boyd's Hannibal label. It's a collection that suggests the Richard & Linda Thompson albums he would release throughout the '70s. Although it's often difficult to find, many fans will find Pottery Pie more than worth the money and effort.
Maria Muldaur has been taken by Bob Dylan's music from the very start. They were on the coffeehouse circuit in New York in the early '60s, and she's had occasion to sing his praises from the stage and in Martin Scorsese's film No Direction Home. And while other artists from Joan Baez to Judy Collins have cut entire albums of Dylan's tunes, none of them feels quite like this one. Muldaur, a fine blues and jazz singer, has taken the songs form Dylan's romantic canon and has fashioned them in her own image without losing their original bite, wonder, and humor. Accompanied by her road band and a slew of guests that include Amos Garrett, Danny Caron, and Suzy Thompson, she has created a dreamy, languid, memorable song cycle.
The sounds of New Orleans have always been in Maria Muldaur's blood and catalog. Dr. John appeared on her first solo album back in 1974 and she arguably hit a career high point on her first full-fledged love letter to the city, 1992's Louisiana Love Call. She returns to the Crescent City for this 2011 release, employing veteran New Orleans keyboardist Dave Torkanowsky as musical director and "facilitator" and returning to the swampy "Bluesiana music" sound that includes heavy doses of gospel and blues along with touches of jazz, soul, and funk. This is a major shift from her past two acoustic jug band releases and plays to her sultry strengths as a vocalist who can convincingly sing any style of music she feels passionate about. Muldaur revisits a few tracks she has previously recorded (an earlier version of "As an Eagle Stirreth in Her Nest" was included on 1976's Sweet Harmony) but with a band that features guitarist Shane Theriot and Subdudes bassist Johnny Allen, they and the rest of the handpicked material boil with fresh enthusiasm.
At age 83, pianist/vocalist Jay McShann was still at the top of his game and providing many lessons for the younger "swing" cats and kittens. He is the epitome of what can be done when jazz and blues are mixed equally, especially when the fun factor is liberally added in. While some might find this typical, many others should revel in the sound of one of this music's last living legends who is still doing it, and doing it very well at that. The chemistry between McShann and guitarist/session leader Duke Robillard is considerable and undeniable, and makes Still Jumpin' the Blues enjoyable throughout. With such solid support from Robillard and the band, McShann has nothing to worry about. Everything you might want is here: classic versions of "Goin' to Chicago," "Ain't Nobody's Business," and "Trouble In Mind"; a nice rearrangement with tempo shift from mellow to mid-tempo on "Sunny Side of the Street"; Maria Muldaur's sultry singing on "Come on Over to My House," and especially the Bessie Smith evergreen "Backwater Blues"; wonderful instrumentals like "Moten Swing" and "Say Forward, I'll March"; and even a little Hawaiian slide accenting "Hootie's K.C. Christmas Prayer".
Naïve are delighted to announce the world premiere recording of 'Orlando Furioso', the 1714 version. It scored a huge success at the Teatro San Angelo in Venice, where it was directed by none other than Vivaldi and his father. The manuscript, rediscovered 250 years later in Vivaldi’s personal library, now in Turin, was thought to be a revision of an existing 'Orlando' of 1713 by Bolognese composer Ristori. However, the musicologists in charge of the numbering of the works of Vivaldi, Peter Ryom and his successor Federico Maria Sardelli, wondered why Vivaldi should have kept this music in his personal corpus among all his other scores, and noticed that the manuscript featured many different hands and numerous pasted-in corrections of the parts. Sardelli observed obvious similarities between the arias of this 'Orlando' and those of the first two operas of which Vivaldi was the official composer. His intuition was confirmed by the analysis of Reinhard Strohm, a leading expert on 18th-century opera, and the entire musicological community: this music is definitely by Vivaldi!
Wisely, Shout! Factory has picked up Maria Muldaur's two early-'90s recordings – this one and Louisiana Love Call – from the defunct Black Top label for reissue. While both these recordings are excellent, it's Meet Me at Midnite that offers a portrait of the artist as a hardcore R&B singer of the highest order. Produced by John Porter, Muldaur surrounds herself with crack studio players including Rick Vito, Johnny Lee Schell, Hutch Hutchinson, Bill Payne, and a slew of others. Where Louisiana Love Call focused on the music of New Orleans, Meet Me at Midnite digs deep into various dimensions of the Memphis sound – soul, R&B, and blues – and concentrates on the myriad stages and phases of love. While it's true that the set opens with "Trouble With My Lover" by the Crescent City's Allen Toussaint, its vibe is pure Memphis: funky, dirty grooves, packed in a tight cut-time beat and Muldaur shouting the blues with a big, clear ringing voice that wrenches emotion from every syllable.