Liz Mandeville – Heart ‘O’ Chicago
Blue Kitty Music
11 tracks/49 minutes
Chicago’s red-headed blues diva is at it again, with 11 red hot new tracks that will blow you away like they did me! Liz Mandeville turns in one inspired performance after another on these new cuts while backed by a great band with horns, keyboards and an assortment of great guest stars. I thinks she’s got a hit here and once you hear it I think that you will undoubtedly agree.
Liz has a fantastic guitar whiz in Minoru Maruyama, a former Billy Branch guitar player. He is impeccably smooth and spot on. Darryl Wright is solid on bass, a stalwart backline player of renown. Jeremiah Thomas is on the skins and turns in a superb effort. Joan Gand adds piano and B-3 on half a dozen cuts while Wade Baker (trumpet) is on 9 cuts and Eric Campbell (trombone) and Oz Landesberg (sax) are also on six tracks as her horn section.
Eddie Shaw makes a guest appearance on the first and fifth tracks. “Cloud of Love” and “Quit Me On A Voicemail” feature Eddie on solos; Oz and Eric are also featured on the former along with Joan on keys while Minoru is featured on the latter. “Cloud” is jazzy swing tune where Liz skats and flutters about effortlessly. “Quit Me” is soulful slow blues where she shows a strong yet subtle side where she voice moves up and down the registers with great style.
Billy Branch appears on track 4 (“So Called Best Friend”) and 6 (“Party At The End of Time”) with some mean harp. Liz and Billy spar with vocal and harp licks in the song about a friend who is not so devout in her friendship. Delightful lyrical stuff with sweet harp and guitar solos. The second track with Branch features Liz letting it out a bit as Branch also does on his solo. Minoru follows up with his own solo and then he and Branch share the solo poignantly before Liz returns. The song ends with a dervish of a stratospheric harp blow.
Charlie Love helps out on vocals on “Don’t Doubt My Love” and “Silver Lining (Shirley’s Blues) and does a bang up job. Dizzy Bolinski blows some cool harp on the final cut “Life Is Like A) Wave.” I am impressed top to bottom with the talent Liz brings both to her recordings and live shows- she always puts on a fantastic show and has become one of my favorite female vocalists on the scene today!
Whether Liz is doing slow blues ballads like “These Blues” or (as Liz puts it) the “butt-rockin’, shake your shimmy get your wiggle on music” as in many of the other tracks, we have a hellluva CD here. I think it is destined for greater notice and recognition. I hope you go out and get a copy because you will enjoy as I have!