Minnesota-based vocalist Dorothy Doring followed the Mississippi River from her native Minnesota down to New Orleans to record her CD Southern Exposure.
The set opens with the time-tested Consuelo Velasques tune, "Besame Mucho." It's a song that's been covered by, seemingly, everybody: The Beatles, Carmen McCrae, Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole and so on. So how do you freshen it up? Doring does it via a slow simmer of David Tarkanowsky's spare arrangement, that opens with a haunted saxophone blowing in front of a subtle burble of percussion, leading into the vocalist's plea to be kissed a bunchand she sounds so forlorn, so emotionally bare, as if she knows there's a possibility that the kissing thing might not happen.
The keys to the success of Southern Exposure are right there from the start: Tarkanowsky's deft arrangements, his light touch accompaniment on piano, combined with Doring's smooth, crystalline vocalswith some occasional bluesy gritthat get to the emotional core of a bunch of familiar tunes.
Bluesy grit? Doring's take on Joe Greene's "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" is about as soulful a sound as you'll hear. For contrast, "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" features Doring's voice with a lighthearted bounce, with tenor saxophonist Derek Doucet blowing like an extremely cool cat over guitarist Steve Masakowski's crisp comping.
Gershwin's "Nice Work If You Can Get It" bubbles and pops with Michael Skinkus' percussion behind Doring's straightforward vocal treatment of the tune. "What the World Needs Now," from the Bacharach/David songbook, is given a modern sparkle and insistent drive by Tarkanowsky, and, again, a soulful delivery by Doring.
The set closes with Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It Away." It's a dark, late night sound, a artist alone as the crowd thins, singingaccompanied by a plaintive saxophonefrom somewhere deep in her heart. Beautiful.
Besame Mucho; I Love Paris; Nice Work if You Can Get It; What the World Needs Now; The Good Life; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square; Giant Steps; Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'; That Old Black Magic; Throw It Away.
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.