Caroline Dahl – A Boogie Woogie State Of Mind
Hexadact Records – 2020
12 tracks; 46.20 minutes
Pianist Caroline Dahl is a native of Kentucky but has made San Francisco her home for thirty years, playing both solo and in bands. On her latest disc she is joined by a slew of Bay Area stalwarts, including two rhythm sections: Steve Parks on electric bass (and vocals on three songs) plays with former Robert Cray drummer Kevin Hayes, Joe Kyle Jr’s acoustic bass is paired with Tommy Castro’s current drummer Bowen Bowen; Jeff Ervin plays saxes on all bar one cut. Caroline wrote six originals and arranged two medleys of standards and there are four diverse covers.
The originals include the solo piano pieces “Devil Digits Boogie Woogie” and “River City Boogie Woogie” and Caroline also adapts a theme from Czech composer Smetana and combines it with a Russian feel on “Die Moldau/Moscow Nights Boogie”, the latter part of the tune very much like Kenny Ball’s Trad Jazz success “Midnight In Moscow” from 1961. All four of these solo pieces give ample demonstration of Caroline’s prowess at the piano and there are further reminders of the style we are in with the appropriately entitled opener “Call To Boogie” and the excellent “Bellingham Boogie” which might just be the standout track with some exuberant sax playing. There was an era when blues and jazz were very much part of the same spectrum and the bright “King Cobra Club” reminds us of how close the two genres can be while “Payday” sounds as happy as people are when that particular time comes around!
The covers begin with a title that could well be applied to Caroline herself, Doc Pomus’ classic “Boogie Woogie Country Girl” and a stately run through Big Jay McNeeley’s “There Is Something On Your Mind” works well with Steve’s expressive vocal and Jeff’s sax work to the fore, Caroline adding some very bluesy piano frills. Charles Davenport’s “Cow Cow Blues” dates back to 1925 and also going back to between the wars is a fun medley of “When You’re Smiling/Sheik Of Araby” which features some excellent sax work from Jeff and short features for Joe’s acoustic bass and Bowen using brushes before Caroline returns to the blues with Muddy Waters’ “Red Beans” which readers may be familiar with from Marcia Ball’s version.
This was a very enjoyable disc to review, fine playing and quite exhausting if you allow your toes to tap throughout! One should also note that Caroline is multi-talented as she is also an award-winning fabric artist, one example of her work being the cover of this album which name-checks heroes of the piano such as Albert Ammons, Meade Lux-Lewis, Professor Longhair and Pinetop Perkins. Check out that aspect of her talents at www.carolinedahl.com.