Recording an entire album of covers seems like it puts listeners on notice that the artist may be on the down side of a once successful career. In retrospect, never does this apply more than on rock or pop albums, but there is always an exception to the rule, such as jazz and blues. If in fact you are a good musician that is surrounded by talent that is supportive and like minded, and you decide to record timeless and treasured classics from the "Great American Songbook," then you have a sure fire formula for success.
The ensemble Espresso Jazz has gathered 12 essential tracks on their latest release The Blues Are Brewin’, that catch the sands of time and hold them in suspended animation for the run of this CD. The trick is that you must play these songs with the heart, soul, and infinite knowledge of where and whence the writer of the tune was coming from at the time. When you look at all the dates that these great songs came to life, from 1927 to 1947, it boggles the mind when you reflect upon everything that was happening in the country during that time span. The end of the roaring twenties, the advent of the talkies in the cinema, the depression, World War II, so many significant events that changed the world forever, are found inside the fiber and being of these songs. Great music like this has a way of connecting us to our history and it allows us to revisit other times. For the people that lived during the time all the events unfolded, each song takes on a different meaning.
Sandi Russell (vocal/guitars) and Barbara Hilton (acoustic bass), the driving force behind this music, combine their respective instruments expertly along with special guest performers Dave Pinardi (cornet/trumpet) and Richard Mayer (drums). Pinard uses a vintage Springfield cornet to get that "Fat Tuesday" Orleans style sound while Sandi plays a 1947 Epiphone Regent acoustic arch top guitar to create a flavorful and rich ambiance for the rest of the band to step right into without missing a step along the way. This ambitious project blossomed like a beautiful musical flower once the Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday catalogs became the inspiration. The evidence of that inexhaustible musical growth is all over this CD.
"I’ve Got The World On A String" always puts a smile on my face, it always reminds me of "Old Blue Eyes" Frank Sinatra, because I always loved his version of the song. This was blues and jazz in the critical formative years and it was an incredible sequence of proceedings that made people realize how closely related the genres were. With a little loving care, the musical partners would merge seamlessly to create some of the most memorable music of our time.
The Blues Are Brewin’ is a knock on the door of our past and a wonderful reminder of how great all these songs sound to this day. I have a feeling whether it is 2003 or 2057 they will always sound good. Music is immortal ever reminding us of our mortality; it is comforting to know the history of American music will carry on long after we are gone. We need to give a collective thanks to bands like Espresso Jazz for their efforts in bringing us from the past into the future with music that has no timeline. Although I realize that this project was a grand group effort, a tip of the hat goes to Sandi Russell for her superb vocals and intimate guitar playing throughout this album.