Maria Muldaur – Don’t You Feel My Leg
Over her fifty-plus year career, singer Maria Muldaur has released more than thirty recordings, scoring one bonafide hit with “Midnight At The Oasis” from her 1973 self-titled album. But she could have had a second hit from the same album. As she explains in her notes included in the packaging of her new release, disc jockeys across the country had another song on the album, “Don’t You Feel My Leg,” in more frequent rotation than “Oasis”. Discussions with her record company about making that song the follow-up broke down as the label considered the track too risque for the general public, a decision that certainly seems quaint today with standards that allow all kinds of potentially offensive language and sexual references on the air, even in the Oval Office at the White House. Muldaur includes an updated version of the song on her exceptional tribute to one of the tune’s writers, Louisa “Blue Lou” Barker.
Barker was a fixture on the New Orleans traditional jazz scene along with her guitar and banjo playing husband, Danny Barker. The singer had a number of hits, featuring her high pitched voice, often with some of the best jazz musicians of the era. Muldaur has always had an affinity for Barker’s repertoire, so this tribute is a natural extension of the one she performed at the 2016 Danny Barker Festival.
On tracks like “Georgia Grind” and “Bow Legged Daddy,” Muldaur’s warm, deliciously steamy vocals accurately portray the lusty nature of both tunes. Even better is “Trombone Man Blues,” a late-night blues full of sexual innuendo and Charlie O’Halloran’s languid trombone statement. It is one of four songs penned by Danny Barker for his wife, with “Loan Me Your Husband” complete with sly humor cushioned by a lush horn arrangement and a memorable Roderick Paulin tenor sax solo. The sprightly “Here’s A Little Girl From Jacksonville” sparkles due to David Torkanowsky’s stellar piano accompaniment. The band lays down a up-tempo pace on “Now You’re Down In The Alley,” Muldaur shouting out spontaneous encouragement at their efforts.
Blue Lou was also a songwriter, with “Scat Skunk” serving as her pointed kiss-off for a unfaithful man. “Nix On Those Lush Heads” finds Muldaur issuing a warning to steer clear of the had-to-much-to-drink crowd in a firm, melodic tone. She makes it abundantly clear to other women why they are wasting their time pursuing her man on “Leave My Man Alone,” accenting once again the sly humor in the lyrics. “A Little Bird Told Me” was a 1948 release for Barker. It gets a swinging treatment with Muldaur adding some scat vocalizing. She closes things out with “Don’t You Feel My Leg,” her bawdy vocal punctuated by marvelous interjections from Torkanowsky and the horns.
Recorded this year in New Orleans, Muldaur enlisted the help of some of the top musicians in the city, players that have the feel and understanding of the Barker legacy. Besides the previously mentioned players, the band includes Herlin Riley on drums, Chris Adkins on guitar, Roland Guerin on bass, Kevin Louis & Duke Heitger on trumpet, Paulin & Tom Fischer on saxophone and clarinet, and Eric Trolsen on trombone. For an extra authentic touch, guitarist Steve Masakowski loaned out Danny Barker’s guitar for use on the sessions.
Muldaur’s voice is deeper than Blue Lou Barker’s, with a richer tone that is an ideal fit for these twelve songs. She shares an intrinsic understanding of the music with the band members, so that their collective efforts revive these classics in all of their bawdy glory while adding exciting musical statements firmly rooted in the traditions. You can count on playing this one more than a few times…..