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Singer/pianist Daryl Sherman has been a fixture on the Manhattan music scene for years, playing various clubs since her arrival in 1974 and ending a 14-year run at the Waldorf-Astoria earlier this year. New O’Leans is her tribute to the survival spirit of the Crescent City’s residents, still present after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, where a parade is possible any day for any occasion.
Joined by several of the city’s top jazz musicians, including guitarist James Chirillo, clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Tom Fischer, bassist Al Menard and guest trumpeter Connie Jones, Sherman’s light, swinging vocals and subtle, effective piano complement her interesting mix of songs. One can feel the pulse of the city with her opening track “S’Mardi Gras,” which was penned by her friend Rhodes Spedale (one of many residents displaced by the storm). “Mr. Bojangles” was a hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in the early ‘70s, though Sherman’s soft, engaging setting of Jerry Jeff Walker’s tune conveys a sense of nostalgia while also adding a personal touch in the arrangement. Dick Hyman’s “Doin’ the Chameleon” is an old-fashioned strut, punctuated by Jones’ muted trumpet, while Sherman’s moving duet of Dave Frishberg’s “Eloise” with clarinet is another gem of recent vintage.
The leader doesn’t neglect older material. Her playful take of Louis Armstrong’s nostalgic “Red Cap” and enticing medley of “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” and “Louisiana” stand out. She sings the lyrics to Sidney Bechet’s “Petit Fleur” in both French and English, backed by Chirillo’s quiet guitar and Fischer’s bittersweet clarinet. The ‘30s era “(Belle of) New O’leans” starts with a hilarious quote from The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” then segues into a sauntering tempo.
Track Listing: S'Mardi Gras; Way Down Yonder in New Orleans/Louisiana; Red Cap; Ill Wind; Mr. Bojangles; Petite Fleur; Shaking the Blues Away; Wendell's Cat; I Dont Want to Miss Mississippi; Doin the Chameleon; Eloise; (Belle of) New O'leans; Moon River.
Personnel: Daryl Sherman: piano, vocals; James Chirillo: electric guitar; Al Bernard: bass; Tom Fischer: clarinet, tenor sax; Connie Jones: trumpet.