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Zoe Schwarz: The Blues and I Should have a Party

C. Michael Bailey By

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That most durable and indivisible of popular music genres: the blues. Traditionally of an eight-or twelve-bar architecture, if not something more primordial from the pre-Great Depression shellac of Mamie Smith, Tommy Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Charlie Patton. After years of sepia-toned, nostalgic reportage regarding the Ur-nature of this folk art, most of the cobwebs of legend and myth have since been brushed away, revealing that the "blues" became the "blues" at the same time they became a commodity being sold and disseminated. What this dissemination led to, by necessity, was manifold paths of evolution into what became every popular music category existing today. This is why the James Fennimore Cooper-notion of the nobility of the primal as something to be declared indivisible is misleading. The "blues" came from somewhere and, therefore, have always been going somewhere else.

One of the most significant places the blues has recently gone is into the souls and spirits of British vocalist Zoe Schwarz and guitarist Rob Koral. The husband-and-wife pair have been recording since 2008, becoming Blue Commotion with the release of Zoë Schwarz Blues Commotion (33 Records, 2012). After several recordings bearing a progressive evolution and refinement of the blues through the Schwarz-Koral prism, the group circling a jazz organ-trio format, made the notable This Is the Life I Choose (33 Jazz Records, 2017) to which they follow up with the present The Blues and I Should have a Party.

The disc is a collection of thirteen original compositions of which exactly zero are slow 12-bar blues. None is what I would classify as Bobby Rush-R&B. There is a a decided European flavor to these songs, one that reminds me of Low Society's "Need Your Love" from 2014's You Can't Keep A Good Woman Down (Icehouse Records). Both songs have the rich, earthy sounds of Eastern Europe as presented from the stage of countless Berlin cabarets in the 1920s. As heady as Absinthe and as revealing as the cleavage of the Lost Generation, songs like the title piece, "Down in the Caves" and "Time Waits for No One" represent a sophisticated take on the blues and exists as a rightful evolutionary result.

Track Listing: Please Don’t Cheat on Me; The Blues and I Should Have a Party; You’ve Changed; Way Down in the Caves; Don’t Worry Blues; Should; I Don’t Live Here Anymore; My Handsome Man; Tell Me; Don’t Hold Back; the Memory of You; Time Waits for No One; Thank You.

Personnel: Zoe Schwarz: vocals; Rob Koral: guitars; Pete Whittaker: Hammond organ; Paul Robinson: drums and Percussion.

Title: The Blues and I Should have a Party | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: 33 Jazz

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