Caroline Dahl—Night House – GlobeRecords

by | Jan 15, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Caroline Dahl—Night House –, 57:54 ****:

(Caroline Dahl, piano & accordion; Drummers: Bowen Brown, Kent Bryson, John Hanes & Jimmy Sanchez)

There is this band in the San Francisco Bay area, headed by Tom Rigney, named Flambeau.  A roots band reminiscent of Queen Ida, Roy Rogers, but with a fiery Cajun presence that is a wonder to behold.  Rigney is a violinist/composer, and all his musicians are amazing both as soloists and as a cohesive group of wildness.  But one—his new piano player Caroline Dahl, (who also plays accordion) is a standout interpreter of old style boogie-woogie.  And now she has issued her second piano album Night House.  Her first album, No Hats, was a fine debut, but this one is pure gold!

Ms. Dahl is originally from Louisville, Kentucky.  In a recent interview by Mal Sharpe on his Back To Basin Street jazz show Sunday nights on KCSM-FM (listen to KCSM on line – a 24-hour jazz station), Caroline told of her many influences during her childhood. As a child, she listened to the radio a lot, and began to notice Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles. Her piano teacher, though not thrilled that she wanted to play jazz and rock & roll piano rather than classical, did not discourage her.  She later listened to and was influenced by many of the blues greats, including  James Booker, Otis Spann, Pine Top Perkins  and others.  She began playing with all those influences in her head, and people started telling her they loved her boogie-woogie style.  This was a surprise—she didn’t even know the term before that.

Well, she does now! Night House contains 14 examples of her diverse repertoire.    She is at once a terrific “bar room” roughhouse, and a refined keyboard artist who can go in many directions.  The first three tracks will grab you as fine and fun boogie, but then check out her fourth track Mexicali Rose Medley on this album.  You may not believe it!  You’ll recognize the title song, but then what’s this?  Segue to Chopin? Valse in D Flat!  Piano teacher redux!  And is that Maleguena?  Now Caravan?  Spanish Eyes?  And this is all in track four!!  

From then on, you can’t wait to see what other surprises are in store on the rest of the CD.  She is joined on some tracks by Tim Wager on bass, Tom Rigney on violin, Kent Bryson on drums, and Rob Sudduth on tenor .  They are just right—each adds the perfect touch with Caroline driving them forward.  If you have no boogie woogie artist in your library, this is the one to start with.  It’s available at all the major online sources, including CD Baby, and from her own web site.  Notice on her site that she is also a renowned fabric artist of international reputation. 

— Bob Wilkins


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