Jazz vocalist Dorothy Doring has a history with the Crescent City. A native of Minnesota vacationing in New Orleans in 2004, Doring encountered pianist David Torkanowsky, which led to her sitting in with his group. One thing led to another and, although the beginnings of this album began that year, it was not released until December, 2007 due to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
The aptly named Southern Exposure was produced by Torkanowsky, who recruited some of the best musicians walking the streets of The French Quarter. There are admittedly some well worn tunes that don't lend themselves to freshness, notably on the first half of this album. However, the ensemble's performance makes Southern Exposure worthwhile.
Doring gives a fine performance on the opening Consuelo Velasques standard, "Besame Mucho," in both English and Spanish, projecting a smoldering aura that is fully aided by the first of Derek Douget's simpatico tenor sax solos. Cole Porter's "I Love Paris" has been sung many times, and what lifts this up-tempo version is Steve Masakowski's sparkling guitar solo. Gershwin's "Nice Work If You Can Get It" is given a Latinized arrangement, providing some interest, but "What the World Needs Now," from the Bacharach/David songbook, is simply not another version that the world needs now, with Torkanowsky's Wurlitzer piano backing.
Serious improvement comes along in Act II. Sasha Distel's "The Good Life" is relatively unknown, with Doring leaving her own imprint with a delivery similar to that on "Besame Mucho," and with fine support from Douget and Torkanowsky. The Moschwitz/Sherwin World War Two tune, "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," is taken at mid-tempo, with tasty brushwork from drummer Simon Lott and Douget's tenor solo. Doring provides lyrics to John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" at the beginning and end of the track, but the real news here is the combined work of Torkanowsky, who rips through a bop-ish piano solo, followed by Douget, who maintains the pace on tenor.
The bluesy "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin' ," from Joe Greene, is well expressed by Doring, supported by Torkanowskywho switches from piano to Hammond B3 and backas well as Tim Green's one opportunity on tenor sax. The album concludes with a down-tempo version of Betty Carter's "Throw It Away," featuring Doring's appropriate preaching message and fine obligatos from Douget and Masakowsky.
Overall, Southern Exposure is an album where musicianship somewhat trumps material.
Personnel: Dorothy Doring: vocals; David Torkanowsky: piano, Rhodes piano, Wurlitzer piano, Hammond B3; Derek Douget: tenor sax; Tim Green: tenor sax (8); Steve Masakowski: guitar; Neal Caine:bass (2, 6, 7, 9, 10); Edwin Livingston: bass (1, 3-5, 8); Simon Lott: drums; Michael Shimkus: percussion.