december 2011
beyond the blue

costelloSEAN COSTELLO, At His Best--Live--This may not be the final musical will and testament of Sean Costello, but it is at the very least a stirring reminder of, on one hand, how versatile a player and effective a singer he was, and on the other, of the hole blown into contemporary blues when he departed this mortal coil in April 2008, one day short of his 29th birthday.

leveeLEVEE TOWN, Pages Of Paperwork--Based in Kansas City and clearly helping to energize the city’s resurgent blues scene, Levee Town is a tough-minded quartet (guitar, harmonica, bass, drums) boasting original songs from three band members, stellar musicianship, striking vocals, and a feeling for post-war Chicago blues that recalls nothing so much as the ferocity of the early Rolling Stones, with some southern rock and Texas blues flourishes mixed in for good measure.

russellCATHERINE RUSSELL, Strictly Romancin’--Offering sly, sensuous looks of love courtesy songs from Dorothy Fields-Jimmy McHugh, Hoagy Carmichael, Lil Green, Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, Irving Mills and others, Ms. Russell shows off the impeccable phrasing, savvy rhythmic sense and expressive soulfulness that has earned her the praise of top jazz critics worldwide and a growing audience that appreciates the Ella-like sophistication and clarity of her attack and the personal stamp she puts on material from varied 20th and 21st Century sources.

loversDEBORAH WINTERS, Lovers After All--Bay Area-based pop-jazz vocalist consolidates all her strengths on this, her third album. That is to say, there’s plenty here for those who enjoy her Ella-like forays into seemingly improvisational territory, and plenty of romantic ballads, slow and uptempo alike, for those who hear in her expressive voice a contemporary stylist of the first rank who joins the likes of Diana Krall and Maude Maggart (the two established singers she most resembles) in the ranks of today’s most inspired interpretive singers.


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