11 songs – 44 minutes
Midnight Owl Records
West Coast-based vocalist Adrianna Marie applies a traditional touch to this collection of classics, which mines uptown 1940s and 1950s hits, for this swinging throwback disc that’s guaranteed to get you out of your seat and onto the dance floor.
Born into the folk scene in Connecticut and the daughter of a couple known as the Carolee Singers, Adrianna is a former fashion model who possesses a clear, strong voice perfectly suited for the material she’s chosen. She started singing professionally at age 10, and fell in love with the music in her teens when her vocal coach sneaked her into jazz and blues clubs in Bridgeport and neighboring New York City. Now based in Los Angeles, she’s self-produced two earlier releases, the full-length Spellcaster and EP Can’t Change It, as well as a self-titled 2012 demo on Delta Groove Records. In addition, she’s featured on two cuts on the Mannish Boys’ Double Dynamite CD, which was the 2013 Blues Music Award winner for Best Traditional Blues Album.
Marie’s backed here by the Groovecutters, one of the best collection of musicians the West Coast has to offer. Guitarist LA Jones, Adrianna’s partner in real life, is backed by the 2000 Lbs. of Blues band’s rhythm section: Dave DeForest on upright bass and Ron Felton on drums. David Kida of Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers relieves Felton on five cuts, and Tower of Power trumpeter and trombone player Lee Thornberg leads the horn section with sax player extraordinaire Ron Dziubla. Larry “Big House” David holds down the keys and harmonica. Adrianna’s website also mentions pianist Honey Piazza as being in the lineup, but she’s uncredited on the disc.
A swinging solo from the horn section kicks off “I Want A Tall Skinny Papa” as Adrianna channels blues singer turned gospel powerhouse Rosetta Tharpe. Jones’ solo takes you straight back to the ’40s club scene before the horns come back in with an updated horn chart. Marie’s vocals are delivered bright and crisp without any of the affections that many modern vocalists apply to music of this era. She follows with a reprise of Helen Humes’ “I Ain’t In The Mood,” remaining faithful to the original as the band brings the tune into the 21st Century with a straight-ahead blues feel, powered by a strong harmonica solo from David.
Louis Jordan’s “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” is delivered with a classic swinging big-band feel instead of a jump number, as it was introduced, while “Cherry Wine” is faithful to Little Esther Phillips’ recording on the Federal label. Next up is the Maceo Pinkard penned “Sugar,” a song that’s been recorded by Louis Armstrong, Earl Fatha Hines, Fats Waller and many, many others. The horns take over for this one. They deliver a 48-second solo over a syncopated rhythm before Adrianna sings a couple of choruses to piano accompaniment. Another long horn chart follows to a concluding verse.
The band adopts a modern blues feel for Jay McShann’s quick-paced “Hands Off” with harmonica coming to the fore for a lengthy solo break before Marie launches into a version of Johnny Otis’ “Double Crossing Blues” Johnny Otis. The pace slows dramatically as Adrianna gets to stretch her vocal cords, with subtle call-and-response from guitar before the keys take over for a long solo leading into a guitar break. A drum solo leads into “That’s A Pretty Good Love,” recorded first by Big Mabelle, one of the best – and most powerful — blues shouters of the ’50s. Although Marie doesn’t approach Mabelle’s vocal intensity, she delivers the tune with aplumb. Two more classics – Lil Green’s “I Won’t Sell My Love” and Humes’ “He May Be Your Man” follow before Adrianna steps aside and sets the band free for a six-plus minute closing instrumental, Sonny Thompson’s “Sad Night Owl.”
If you’re addicted to the sounds of the late ’40s and early ’50s like I am, you’ll absolutely love this disc. And so will grandma and grandpa. Turn ‘em on to it. They won’t be disappointed.