"My Baby Just Cares for Me" and "That Old Black Magic" represent Leigh's entry to the great American songbook. Her delivery is highly polished antique, without ever being too reverent. "Cow Cow Boogie" gets into Lebo's Western Swing area, while "So Danco Samba" is Leigh's effective Latin nod. "Someday Baby," a loosely veiled take on Muddy Waters's "Trouble No More," is a layered blues that is almost too processed, but is, nevertheless, very effective. The guitars are thick and sinewy, the horns smoky and swinging.
But it is a different American Songbook, the one originating in Nashville and Austin rather than New York City and Los Angeles. Leigh and her find band transform the Patsy Cline standards "Crazy" and "Walkin' After Midnight," and Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe," into brisk Western Swing that complements "Cow Cow Boogie" very well. Leigh's rich and resonant alto infuses these songs with a dense, sensuous base, fecund and organic. The mood is not necessarily silky, but is, indeed, something else.
Track Listing: My Baby Just Cares For Me; That Old Black Magic; Cow Cow Boogie;
So Dance Samba; Someday Baby; Crazy; I Will; Ode To Billie Jo; Walkin'
After Midnight; You'll Never Walk Alone.
Personnel: Birdie Leigh: vocals; Kevin Chown: upright and electric bass; Avi Sills:
drums and percussion; Jeff Marshall: electric and acoustic guitars;
Quetzal Guerrero: violin; Paulie Cerra: tenor, baritone and alto
saxophones; Bill Steinway: piano, Fender Rhodes and keyboards.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.