LIVE: Catherine Russell @ A Place For Jazz, 11/1/13

November 12th, 2013, 3:00 pm by Greg
Catherine Russell

Catherine Russell

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

“I like old songs… the older, the better,” Catherine Russell informed the full-to-the-back First Unitarian Society Whisperdome in Schenectady, her voice deep and firm. Then she asked us, “What was 60 years ago?” When someone in the crowd came up with 1953, she immediately said, “That’s too soon!” Later in the evening, she told us as an aside, “Vinyl! That’s even better!”

None of this should have been a surprise to us, considering Russell started her first set with Ethel Waters’ “Shake That Thing” and followed her chronological statement with Hoagy Carmichael’s “Ev’ntide.” Russell’s stage attire was as Old School as it gets: Hair done up tight and to a fare-thee-well, black spangly top, black skirt, black hose, black high heels – a far cry from the cornrows and shoulder ‘tats displayed on the CD booklet for her last disc Strictly Romancin’, or the Occupy Wall Street headband she wore for her 2010 release Inside This Heart of Mine. If the trend continues, she’ll be in all-urban cammo for her upcoming disc Bringin’ It Back. The title comes from a Wynonie Harris tune she did in the second set, which was every bit as fun as the first. The song did come from the ’50s, but Russell wasn’t holding that against it.

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A Few Minutes With… Catherine Russell

February 16th, 2012, 12:00 pm by Greg

Catherine Russell

Catherine Russell

Story and interview by J Hunter

It’s way too simplistic to say Catherine Russell was “born to be a musician,” but if you believe in Nature versus Nurture (or, in this case, Nature AND Nurture), the conditions sure were there. The sultry vocalist’s late father Luis Russell was a pianist, a bandleader and a longtime cohort of the one and only Louis Armstrong. Her mother Carline Ray played bass and guitar in the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the first integrated, all-women band in the United States, and has worked with the legendary vocalist Mary Lou Williams.

For her part, Russell is a graduate with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (where she studied acting and movement) and has provided back-up vocals for Steely Dan (she was with them last summer at Tanglewood), David Bowie and Paul Simon before she started making music of her own. “Strictly Romancin'” – her fourth solo release for the World Village/Harmonia Mundi label – dropped (prophetically enough) on Valentine’s Day.

She returns to MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center in North Adams at 8pm on Saturday, and she was good enough to take time out to talk to Nippertown:

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