"Laughing at Life (Anzic Records), the second album from Duchess should be one of sheer joy. The trio of vocalists - Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, and Melissa Stylianou - takes its cues from The Boswell Sisters, who recorded and toured from 1925-1936. Equally fine singers and musicians, The Boswells, born and raised in New Orleans, first came to fame on the radio and then toured with bands led by the Dorsey Brothers (Jimmy and Tommy) as well as Bunny Berigan. When each sister married and subsequently started a family, the decision was to split but their influence can be heard in various "girl groups" of the 1940s including the Andrew Sisters.
The trio goes for a more "contemporary" sound (okay, the 1950s and 60s) with such additions as the sweet bluesy sounds of Ray Charles "Hallelujah I Love Her (Him) So" (strong vocal lead from Ms. Gardner) and the easy swing of "Where Would You Be Without Me" from the Anthony Newley - Leslie Bricusse classic "The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd".
"Laughing at Life" can be such healthy advice but not always easy to do. However, this fine album from Duchess is certainly a step - actually a shower of steps - in the right direction. With fine arrangements from producer Oded Lev-Ari, a crackerjack band, plus fine contributions from the guests, this is music that makes one feel good and there is nothing wrong with that at all.
For more information, go to www.duchesstrio.com/welcome.
Now, take a listen:
|Image by Laurent Leduc|
By the time you arrive at the final track, "Carondeleto's", Ms. Fulton's tribute to her friend Clark Terry's home town of Carondelet, Missouri, the music has gone through a number of moods and style. The cut swings with a vengeance and is a pleasing close to a splendid album. Champian Fulton's previous album, "After Dark", was a tribute to vocalist Dinah Washington and a good one at that. "Speechless" may not have vocals but is a treat from beginning to end with nary a weak cut and a slew of strong solos. Just let the sounds seep into your brain; I guarantee you will feel better.
For more information, go to www.champian.net.
Here's a live version of one of the tracks from "Speechless":
"Groovin' Hard" is a delightful musical snack from Gene Harris & The Three Sounds. The accompanying booklet as well as the video on the Resonance Records website are quite informative; it makes one wish that there was more like this waiting for release (hint hint!)
For more information, go to www.resonancerecords.org/release.php?cat=HCD-2025. You can read his obituary from the New York Times (written by Ben Ratliff) by going to www.nytimes.com/2000/01/18/arts/gene-harris-66-a-jazz-pianist-who-played-bebop-and-soul.html.