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Naughty, Bawdy & Blue by Maria Muldaur

Good things always happen when like-minded artists gather together. This album brings together the legendary Maria Muldaur and James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band, blues belter/guitarist Bonnie Raitt and the influences of the greatest names in blues history. Muldaur and friends do justice to songs made famous by such singers as Sippie Wallace, Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey, Alberta Hunter, Ma Rainey, Ethel Waters, Sara Martin and Mamie Smith.

Maria Muldaur needs no introduction. She has been a supporter of vintage jazz and blues music since her early connection with the Even Dozen Jug Band and Jim Kweskin’s stellar outfit. The Kweskin band introduced a number of great players to jazz fans. Among them were Jeff and Maria Muldaur, violinist Richard Greene and the late jug blower Fritz Richmond. Maria Muldaur cemented her popularity in the mid-70s with a couple of commercial hits, "Midnight At The Oasis" and "I’m A Woman." Since then, she has pleased her fans by delving into a myriad of musical styles, including blues, bluegrass, jazz and folk.

James Dapogny is a music professor at the University of Michigan. Born in Berwyn, Illinois, Dapogny formed his Chicago Jazz Band almost three decades ago. We saw the band on their first appearance outside the USA at the Ottawa Jazz Festival about 1990. About a quarter of the way through their performance, I headed to the on-site record shop and grabbed a copy of their cassette album "For Real." As I expected, they were sold out by the end of the concert.

The pianist/leader is also a musicologist and jazz historian who fully appreciates the music that Maria Muldaur celebrates on this CD. The band still includes some original members, such as Russ Whitman, Rod McDonald and the amazing Kim Cusack. The original co-leader, drummer Wayne Jones, is missing and probably retired from music.

Bonnie Raitt joins Muldaur for a duet on "Separation Blues (Mama’s Gone Goodbye)," celebrating the music of Sippie Wallace. Both Muldaur and Raitt had the opportunity to perform and record with Wallace before her passing in 1986. It’s not a track that the listener will play only once. Bessie Smith fans will enjoy "Empty Bed Blues." Muldaur belts it out with Dave Matthews on piano and Kevin Porter on trombone. Porter sounds remarkably like Charlie "Trombone Cholly" Green on Bessie’s original recording. You won’t play this one "just once" either.

Naughty, Bawdy & Blue is probably Maria Muldaur’s finest CD in recent years. You’ll find sound samples at your favorite on-line record shop.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Maria Muldaur
  • CD Title: Naughty, Bawdy & Blue
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Stony Plain Records
  • Musicians: James Dapognys Chicago Jazz Band; Dave Matthews (piano)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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