World Village Music 468092
It's been about two years since Catherine Russell wowed us with Sentimental Streak on the World Village label. Now she's back with a new collection on the same label, and the jury is in: Catherine Russell is one of today's most reliable and remarkable jazz singers. Blessed with a musical background (her father, Luis Russell, was a world-class band leader who often teamed up with Louis Armstrong), she was given a magnificent voice and has developed a keen sense for lyrics, the ability to make impeccable repertory choices, and endless spirit and heart. On Inside This Heart of Mine, she sings standard jazz and blues -- mostly from the 1920s to the '60s -- and she's recreated the spirit and style of those days without ever sounding camp or condescending. There are some welcome familiar songs here: "All the Cats Join In," "As Long as I Live," "Close Your Eyes," and "Struttin' with Some Barbeque" are peppered with some lesser-known classics, including the ultimate personification of liquor in "Quiet Whiskey."
Whiskey, whiskey on the shelf,
You were so quiet there by yourself.
Things were fine 'til they took you down,
Opened you up and passed you around.
Russell has a cream crop of New York musicians playing with her, and the engineering team has created a design that lets them shine without ever obscuring Russell. The overall sound is rich, warm, and clean.