Retta Christie with David Evans and Dave Frishberg – Retta Records Retta Christie with David Evans and Dave Frishberg, Volume 2 – Retta Records

by | Jul 19, 2010 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Retta Christie with David Evans and Dave Frishberg – Retta Reacords RR002, 42:29****: 
Retta Christie with David Evans and Dave Frishberg, Volume 2 – Retta Records RR003, 39:26 ****:

(Retta Christie – vocals, brush snare drum; David Evans – tenor saxophone, clarinet; Dave Frishberg – piano.)

The context of the term popular music has become muddled. However, in the hands of Retta Christie, it simply means great music with a penchant for personal connection. Raised in Olney, Oregon, Retta learned music at the family piano, singing with her family. Starting as a country singer, with Western Swing roots, being a musician would become her lifelong career including recordings, concerts and hosting a radio program.  A long time association with the late jazz musician, Jim Goodwin, initiated her interest in the accessibility of jazz. She would incorporate this influence into her musical fabric, inspiring this collection of songs.

Possessing a warm clear voice, she has a confident and guileless delivery. She presents an ideal complement to David Evans (tenor saxophone) and the inimitable Dave Frishberg (pianist, arranger). The players have a tremendous chemistry, exuding the warmth and texture of a sepia tone photograph. The song selection is truly inspired featuring a variety of lesser known country, popular and jazz standards.

A testament to the effectiveness of this trio is the nostalgic “I’ll String Along with You”.  Evans takes the first verse with a silky tenor sax melody line, leading into a pristine vocal on the second verse.  As with all of the songs, Frishberg’s accompaniment is stellar, always symmetrical.  A bluesy, country arrangement of “Wallflower Lonely, Cornflower Blue”( a Frishberg composition), is framed by a deft, laconic piano solo.  Evans’ clarinet and saxophone solos are impeccable, ranging from low register breaths to higher note wails. Frishberg’s versatility and technique are both freewheeling and intricate.  Christie adds a nice touch with a sustained brush snare drum.  

Retta Christie is a fearless performer. She reworks two songs associated with Billie Holiday, “Foolin’ Myself” and "A Sailboat in the Moonlight”, and imprints them with her signature bouncy vocals. True to her roots, “Cheatin’ On Me”, Ridin’ Down the Canyon”, and “This Cold War with You” shine in their heartfelt emotion. Evans and Frishberg have an assortment of instrumental numbers. Both, “The Thrill Is Gone”, and “Sweet and Low” are tightly constructed blues songs, with soulful New Orleans tenor lines, and stride piano in perfect unison.

Whether it’s a Mills Brothers hit (“You Always Hurt The One You Love”), western classic “Someday (You’ll Want Me to Want You)”, or movie ditty, “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?”, the listener is rewarded with authenticity.  

TrackList:  (Vol. 1) – Cheatin’ on Me; Yearning Just for You; Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?; Wallflower Lonely, Cornflower Blue; Someday (You’ll Want Me To Want You); The Thrill Is Gone; Louise; I’ll String Along with You; On Treasure Island; This Cold War with You; Lost; Ridin’ Down The Canyon.  (Vol. 2) – I Get The Blues When It Rains; Foolin’ Myself; My Mother’s Eyes: ‘Neath The Purple On The Hills; Only A Rose; Sweet And Slow; You Always Hurt The One You Love; A Sailboat In The Moonlight; For All We Know; I Only Want A Buddy Not a Sweetheart; The Lonesome Road.

—  Robbie Gerson

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