Online since August 2002

Russell shows jazz is in her blood

Reviewed November 2010

Inside This Heart of Mine
Inside This Heart of Mine
By Catherine Russell

World Village: 2010

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

With the release of "Cat" in 2006, Catherine Russell stepped up from being a first-rank background vocalist and staked a claim to some of the musical heritage of her jazz bloodlines – her late dad was a bandleader and Louis Armstrong's musical director, her mom a near-legendary bassist.

Russell's latest, "Inside This Heart of Mine," goes for the same feel as "Cat," with her inspired treatments of a 13-song potpourri of obscure jazz standards, some picks from the fringe areas of the Great American Songbook, and others that are straight blues.

Russell is able to shift musical gears, and on the jazz tracks like the title cut, "All the Cats Join In" and especially "Close Your Eyes" she is smooth as cream over the top of the crisp combo playing economical backup. "We The People," an unfamiliar old tune played by Fats Waller in the '30s, is a bopping surprise. When it comes to blues, Russell has a voice for that, too – a bit more raw and aggressive, like on "Troubled Waters," a highlight. The Songbook gets a visit for "As Long As I Live," and a live, Dixieland-style backing over the last few tracks here, a nod to Satch and her dad, works fine, except on the puzzling choice "Spoonful."

"Inside This Heart of Mine" is another big step forward by Russell. She already had an audience, and this disc will make it larger; the only question is whether she will become a dominant force as a jazz artist or blues performer – or maybe remain a hybrid whose best work captures both.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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