How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
For the last several years, Claudia Schmidt has been one of the Midwest's most well known folk performers, utilizing voice and guitar. She has now reinvented herself as a jazz/blues singer and dispatches the play list on this CD as if she has been doing this material forever. Judging by the applause, so does the audience who showed up at Old Rectory Restaurant and Pub in Northern Michigan. The blues permeates Bill Broonzy's classic "Trouble in Mind" with a talking trumpet by Dave Schock all ending in Schmidt gospel, hallelujah shouting hands raised, palms up signifyin'. The Nat King Cole favorite "Frim Fram Sauce" is straight ahead jazz, once again featuring Shock;'s swinging trumpet, Steve Little's jazz guitar, with wordless vocalizing and nonsense syllables by Schmidt. The variety in the play list is apparent with the1944 hit "One Meatball" introduced by folk singer Josh White with the Andrew Sisters covering to raise the tune to Hit Parade status. Nature Boy has a dollop of the folk to it as Schmidt shows her vocal versatility singing this with a hymn like reverence over the Little's keep-the amps-down-low guitar. But the centerpiece of the album is a tune of the same name where Schmidt melds the blues, Vocalese and straight ahead singing producing a rip rousing good time. Just to show that she does Brazilian and can do it well, Luis Bonfa's "Black Orpheus" is on the musical agenda.
Not enough can be said about the huge contributions the "Jump Boys" make to this album. In addition to Schock and Little, the rhythm section hits the mark each time in providing the perfect backdrop for Schmidt and the instrumental soloists. Steve Stargardt's piano is the common denominator keeping everyone on the same page. Despite its blues style, this is a happy fun album and easy to recommend.
Track Listing: Nature Boy; Centerpiece; Round Midnight; Frim Fram Sauce; Georgia; One Meatball; Black Orpheus; Trouble in Mind; I Thought about You; Danger Zone
Personnel: Claudia Schmidt - Vocal; Jeff Beavan - Bass; Dave Ksycki - Drums; Steve Little - Guitar/Harmonica/Vocals; Dave Schock - Trumpet/Flugelhorn; Steve Stargardt - Drums